National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, NCPWD

Alleviating the Plights of Disabled Persons Through NCPWD

By Mukhtar Ya’u Madobi

It is estimated that more than 1 billion people are battling with one forms of disabilities. This corresponds to about 15% of the world’s population, which is higher than the previous World Health Organization, WHO, estimates, which date
from the 1970s and suggested around 10%.

Out of the above figure, up to 190 million (3.8%) people aged 15 years and older are having significant difficulties in functioning, often requiring health care services.

Meanwhile, in Nigeria, it was reported that there are about 25 million disabled persons in the country. Thus, about one in every eight Nigerians live with at least one form of disability.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, “Disability is the long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory which in interaction with various barriers may hinder (a person’s) full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’).

Most common of these disabilities are visual impairment, hearing impairment, physical impairment, intellectual impairment, and communication impairment. Disabilities could be caused by preventable diseases, congenital malformation, birth-related incidents, physical injury and psychological dysfunction.

Although statistics are scanty about the demographic distribution of disability in Nigeria, available literature suggests that there are significantly more disabled women than men in the country and that due to the insurgency in the North-East, the region hosts the highest number of people with disability in the country.

Therefore, one of the burden facing any serious government is how to take good care of these special people of concerns including their medications, food, clothing, shelter, education and other social amenities.

This can undoubtedly be be achieved through establishment of formidable government agency which will be saddled with responsibility of overseeing and attending to their needs with social protection against discrimination been the central focus.

Obviously, it can be understood that in Nigeria, different regimes of policies have been introduced to offer more robust protection for disabled persons in the country over the years.

They include the National Policy on Inclusive Education (2016), the National Health Act (2014), the National Health Policy (2016), Policy on Albinism, and the Framework on Access and Participation. However, the continued outcries of PWDs raise serious questions on the policies and measures that have initiated to tackle discrimination against disabled persons and to promote inclusion in the country.

In an attempt to provide a lasting solution to these myriad forms of problems bedeviling the people leaving with disabilities (PLWDs), the present administration of President Muhammadu deemed it necessary, timely and very apt to create a body/organization/commission that is mandated to address these issues.

To that effect, the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) is therefore created. The commission is an Establishment of Federal Government of Nigeria pursuant to section (31) of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disability (Prohibition) Act 2018. The Act was signed into law on the 17th January 2019 by Mr. Buhari who is the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Act among other things, empowered the Commission to promote, protect and prioritize the rights of persons with disabilities, and to further enhance their productivity through education, health and other socio-economic activities of the state.

The NCPWD is an Agency under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development headed by Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq and has the Office of the Executive Secretary as the Chief Executive Officer and the Head of the Agency.

The core mandate of the Commission for was to to coordinate and implement activities that guarantee full inclusion of Persons with Disabilities into the society in areas of education social economic and civil rights and related matters as entrenched in Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018.

Foregoing by the above, one can easily infer that the NCPWD is an institution working to promote an inclusive society for persons with disabilities through research, advocacy, engagement, mainstreaming, policy development, and enforcement.

It can be recalled that the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 10 aims to reduce inequality by empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including persons with disabilities. Also, Goal 11 would is projected to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable for all including the PLWDs.

However, in order to achieve the objectives for which the commission was created, the search for a credible person with requisite skills, knowledge and expertise around this sector can never be downplayed. That person must also have good track record of leadership abilities which is necessarily needed in steering the affairs of the commission smoothly.

As nature assumed it, NCPWD is blessed to have as its leader, one of very few personalities in Nigeria with such vast experience and credentials added to his name to be supervising the activities of the agency.

Mr. James David Lalu npom is the Pioneer Executive Secretary and the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission since August 2020 to date. His appointment by the Mr. Buhari was very apt owing to his past antecedents in his previous places of assignments and present performances in the sector.

Mr. Lalu is not a novice in this industry, but rather a veteran who passed across stages to established footprints for his name. He was the erstwhile Special Assistant on Disability Affairs to the former Governor of Plateau State, his Excellency Mr. Jonah David Jang and he has journeyed through rough plains in the course he believes in.

He held that position for Six years until his elevation to Member, Plateau State Disability Rights Commission in 2013 and subsequently appointed as the Executive Chairman, Plateau State Disability Rights Commission in January 2017.

Ever since he assumed the helm of the affairs of the NCPWD, remarkable successes centered towards improvement and enchancing the welfare of PLWDs were achieved.

These include but are not limited to welfare improvement, collaboration with stakeholders including foreign partners such as Amnesty International in protecting the rights of PLWDs, equipping and empowering them with necessary skills through vocational training in order to survive in a competitive environment among host of others.

With Lalu as their administrator, Nigerians living with disabilities are sure to have found themselves as lucky ones, among their peers around the globe.

Mukhtar is a Staff Writer with the Emergency Digest

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