OrderPaperToday – Over 700 soldiers of the Nigerian army have been amputated as a result of war against boko haram terrorism in the north-eastern region of the country.

This was disclosed by the Executive Secretary of National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, James Lalu on Thursday when he appeared to defend the commission’s 2021 budget before the Senate committee on Special duties.

Recall that the passage of the disability bill in the 8th Assembly paved way for its assent in 2019 that birthed the commission.

It was eventually established 24th of August 2020 and it seeks to cater for the education, health, livelihood, provision of accessible facilities, and protection of lives and dignity of 31.5 million disabled persons in the country, Lalu stated.

“The issue of empowerment, we have a very large ambition. In our proposal they saw the empowerment and said it was too many so some were removed and we have N700 million. If we are able to get a upward review, we can be able to bring in more empowerment programmes because it is very necessary.

“Our brothers and sisters with disability in the north east…The thing they are facing is not an easy thing. Today, our military is suffering in that area. So many of them were amputated. I think we got a number of over 700 soldiers that got amputation. Some of them were dismissed from their work because of this amputation.

“We are expected to provide support for them so they can be able to walk fit and go back to their work. Dismissing them automatically is abusing their rights as persons with disability because they need to be protected”, he said.

According to him, the Commission’s approach is inclusive development that will protect the rights of disabled persons and reduce discrimination to the barest minimum so that they can participate in every government activity.

The commission also seeks to ensure that at least 10 percent of persons living with disability be included in all government activities and 5% in the area of employment.

The commission is proposing N1, 749, 884, 495 as its 2021 budget, N749, 884, 498 for
personnel cost, overhead at N299,999,997 and capital expenditure at N700 million.

This will cater for all persons with disability in all 774 local government areas and over 8000 electoral wards in Nigeria.

The official urged the committee to consider an upward review of its budget so they can meet with the high expectations from the disability community.

He explained: “Even if this commission is going to be allocated N20 billion every year, it will take this commission almost 20 years to meet up with 50% of the expectation of persons with disability in Nigeria.

“Just the provision of addictive device only before a person can get artificial limb that can last for more than five years he will require N500, 000 and if you look at this with so much crises around a lot of people are already have become members of persons with disability. Some of them because of gun shots and they are amputated.

“Today in Nigeria we are with the statistics everyday in our tertiary health facilities you have one or two persons being amputated. And an amputated person who does not have artificial limb he walks with clutches automatically he can’t go to farm, he will not be able to fend for himself and when it happens he may resort to begging.

“Just because he has no wheel chair he may not be able to go to school and in this a way that a potential president and a potential Local government chairman or a potential senator is wasted just because he does not have the basic limb.”

A member of the Committee, Senator Francis Fadahunsi (PDP, Osun) asked how the commission intends to access all disabled persons.

Lalu said the commission will create zonal and state offices that will reach disabled persons in local government areas.

“Our plan is that we are expected to have zonal and state offices so that our activities will reach directly to the communities because more than 90 per cent of our people live in the rural areas.

” It is our plan that if our budget is considered, we are going to have these offices in 2021 so that immediately we have these offices, they will start reaching out to our people.”

He tasked lawmakers to support his commission adding that the population of disabled people can give them a huge number of votes during elections.

“We are looking at the committee to help us so that we can deliver. We must work together and get to the constituencies. We know our people in the constituencies they are strong voters, that is why I say our constituency is a constituency of consequences because of our numbers that is still growing up.

“So when you do it for us, we support you. Our votes alone can bring in a senator or member of the House of Representatives and our people will be happy when they see our representatives coming back home with most of the necessities they need”, Lalu said.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Yusuf Yusuf (APC, Taraba) charged the commission to work on establishing a database for people with disabilities and provide a structure for the proposed offices.

“Then we will know the kind of health facilities we have to provide, the kind of capacity building you are going to make, means of livelihood, education etc.

“I looked at your 2021 budget to see which area we are going to capture that for making provision for effective database. We will look at it so see what amendments to make to give you leeway to spend money.

“I looked into your 2021 budget for where there will be creation of zonal and states offices but I could not see it. But we will look at it to see how you are going to build your offices. We would want that structure of state and local government offices in the next 24 hours”, he said.

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