By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
Commissioner for Human Services and Social Development, Hafsat Baba, has said the state is doing well on citizens’ inclusion in governance.
The Commissioner made the statement when a NGO, Accountability Lab Nigeria, (ALNG), paid a courtesy visit to her office in Kaduna on Wednesday.
She thanked the group for its good works and support for the Kaduna State Government and listed some of the programmes of the government for citizens to include; the Gender Equity and Inclusion Policy, which she explained would be reviewed next month.
According to her, the government is currently constructing three additional Rehabilitation Centres in the three senatorial zones that will cost over one-billion Naira.
She disclosed that the State’s Health Insurance Scheme in operation in the state captures Persons with Disability, (PWDs), Vulnerable groups, women and children, and towards this end, the Disability Trust Fund has been approved by the Governor.
“We are also working on a memo to be submitted to the Human Development Council next Monday on the number of PWDs engaged by government both at the State and Local Government levels.
“The Governor has given considerations to PWDs that all infrastructures in the state must be disability friendly; there must be provisions for Rams in schools, and even in toilets to ensure PWDs were not left behind.
“The PWDs benefit from all the intervention programmes in the state. Recently, the women benefited from the Women Empowerment Fund to boost their small businesses,” she disclosed.
Baba however said that the Government frowns at the PWDs being on the streets despites all the intervention programmes, not being law abiding, and their refusal to send their children to school.
She reiterated that even if there were provisions for PWDs, if they did not have education is a serious issue. “A situation where the government asks for PWDs with certain qualifications for job placement and they can’t provide one is a huge problem for us. It is a huge gap in the Rehabilitation Board.
“Therefore, the area I want us to really look at is what can we do to encourage them enrol their children into schools, and how can we encourage PWDs to go to school? Being disabled does not stop one from learning,” she added.
The Executive Director of Kaduna State Rehabilitation Board, Aliyu Yakasai, appreciated ALNG for its series of supports aimed at achieving the inclusion of PWDs in the state.
He said the visit came at the right time when the issue of the Proposed Disability bill is being considered, and assured them of support from the ministry.
Earlier, the Team Lead Civic Action of ALNG, Shiiwua Mnenga, briefed the Commissioner that the Voice Inclusion Project is working to make sure governance in the country benefits all citizens.
He explained that the project which started sometimes in September 2020 in Kaduna focuses on 3 key individuals such as women, youth and PWDs; adding that ALNG has had a series of meetings with the Executives of Joint National Association of Persons with Disability, (JONAPD) as partners in the project.
“We wrote a letter requesting for the domestication of the Persons with Disability Act signed by President Muhammadu Buhari in August 2018. When we speak of building an inclusive society, it is a situation where no one should be left behind.
“It is currently estimated that Nigeria has over 30 million PWDs which is quite a large number that can not be ignored. We felt that through our work on Inclusion, the only way to give the PWDs a sense of belonging, the inclusivity we yearn for is to domesticate the national Act.
“This is to ensure the PWDs which constitute a large number of the state’s population, also have some level of potentials to contribute both to the state economy for its overall growth,” he said.