Nation building a mirage without inclusiveness – Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, nation building and national transformation will continue to be a mirage without carrying along all segments of the society.

The minister stated this on Thursday Abuja at the 2021 Annual Lecture of the Federal Radio of Nigeria (FRCN), with the topic “The Imperative of Disability Inclusion National Transformation”.The News of Nigeria (NAN) reports the National Dialogue on Disability Inclusion was organised by the FRCN conjunction with the Albino Foundation and the European Union.Mohammed said line with the position and belief, the  administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had implemented  deliberate policies and programmes to ensure inclusiveness.He said the policies were initiated with a view to taking Nigeria into an era which every citizen would not just feel a sense of belonging, but a pride that they have a that truly belongs to them and cares for them.“

President Muhammadu Buhari been so passionate about creating lasting structures and institutions that will drive inclusive social protection beyond the tenure of his administration.“This explains why, for the first in the history of Nigeria, this administration created a ministry to cater for, among others, the vulnerable in the society: the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster and Social Development.“In addition, it created the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD), headed by an Executive Secretary from the community of Persons with Disabilities, in the person of Mr James David Lalu,” he said.Mohammed added that in January 2019, the Buhari administration ratified the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018.

He said the law become a major plank towards ensuring Inclusive Social Protection in the .The minister said in all the various Social Protection Programmes of the administration, special considerations were given to the plight of people with disabilities. The programmes, according to the minister, included the Conditional Cash Transfer, the Government Enterprising and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), the N-power and the Home-Grown School Feeding programmes.To  foster disability inclusion, he said, the president in 2019 accepted and signed into Law the Discrimination against persons with Disabilities (prohibition) Bill.He said the president had surpassed his predecessors in appointing persons with disabilities into positions including the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Disability matters who is a visually impaired person.

The minister said the Special Assistant to the President on Disability is a Person With Disability while the Special Assistant to the President on Special needs is equally visually impaired.He said six members of the Governing Council of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, including its Executive Secretary, were also People With Disabilities.The minister said 100,000 beneficiaries with Disabilities were included into the conditional cash transfer programme, while 40,000 people in the same category benefited in the Batch C stream of the N-Power Programme of the Federal Government.He said there is an ongoing design and of accessibility facilities in three Nigerian Universities – Uthman Danfodio University, Sokoto; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; and University of Ilorin.The minister said the administration introduced Development of Minimum Accessibility Standard, a policy document that provides detailed accessibility facility requirements for buildings, roads and transportations, among others.

He said the Inspector General of Police also recently approved the establishment of Disability services units in all Nigerian Policeformations in the in partnership with the NCPWD.The unit, according to him, is to curb discrimination and other ill treatment of persons with disabilities.“

The NCPWD commenced the enrolment of persons with Disabilities in a special Health Insurance Scheme specially designed to commence with 800 pilot beneficiaries cutting across the federation.“The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, in collaboration with the NCPWD, is currently developing a National Accessible Housing Programme for Persons with Disability in the FCT and the 36 to solve the housing needs of the disability community,” he said.

The minister, who called for attitudinal change of Nigerians,  the FRCN for all the efforts and resources put into ensuring the sustenance of the annual lecture.  Some other dignitaries that gave goodwill messages at the event were the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, and the Founder of Albino Foundation, Mr Jake Epele. NAN also reports the highlights of the event was a drama presentation by students of the School of the Deaf and Dumb in Abuja, titled “Together We Will Build the Nation”. 

The students also presented traditional dances of the major tribes in Nigeria without audible sound demonstrating their belief that they have music in their hearts. (NAN)