By Chibuzor Emejor
As Nigeria joined the rest of the world to celebrate the International Day for Persons With Disabilities(PWDs), the Federal Government has announced on Monday that it is considering scaling up the recruitment quota of PWDs from the current two percent to 10 percent in all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.
Dr. Samuel Ankeli, Senior Special Assistant on Disability Matters to the President, who stated this in Abuja at the launch of the survey of PWDs in the Federal Civil Service, said over the years, persons with disabilities have been neglected and side-lined in the recruitment process in the Federal Civil Service.
To correct this anomaly, Ankeli, a visual-impaired, said a memo is being developed by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and his office, which would be taken to Mr. President for consideration and approval.
He also revealed that special allowance would be worked out for PWDs as part of measures to cushion the extra-stress which they go through in the course of coming to work daily and their work environment to create a new lease of life for them.
According to him, “President Muhammed Buhari is fully committed to improving the lives of persons with disabilities.
“It is in principle that Mr. President wants to improve our lives. It is obvious that persons with disabilities with academic qualifications have not been given their fair share in the Federal Civil Service.
“Our presence in the workforce is still very negligible. It is a normal government procedure to improve policy when need be.
“It is policy-decision. The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation with our team is preparing a document to improve the recruitment quota of people with disabilities from the negligible two per cent to 10 percent
“The document will also provide allowance for PWDs to cushion their expenses and extra-stress of working with disabilities in the Federal Civil Service.
“ I know that as soon as the memo is taken to Mr. President for approval, actions will be taken on it quickly.”
Commenting on the launch of the baseline survey of persons with disabilities, Ankeli lauded the initiative, adding that the National Bureau of Statistics, National Population Commission and other critical stakeholders would be involved in the survey.
He assured that PWDs would cooperate with those saddled with the responsibility of carrying out the survey, adding that it would enhance the welfare of persons with disabilities.
Also speaking, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, explained that it was the first time in the Federal Civil Service that a baseline survey would be conducted to determine the number of persons with disabilities.
Oyo-Ita pointed out that the essence was to ascertain the number of PWDs in the Federal Civil Service in order to provide them with a better work environment as well as improve their welfare.
She said the exercise would commence in the Federal Government MDAs in Abuja, adding that subsequently, the exercise would be extended to other parts of the country.
She disclosed that the Survey is funded by European Union and other international donors.
In his remarks, Mr. Jake Epelle, President and founder, Albino Foundation, commended the initiative, expressing optimism that it would tremendously assist in addressing the plethora of challenges confronting persons with disabilities in the Federal Civil Service.
Epelle contended that there was no way government could plan effectively for the welfare of the citizenry without accurate and timely data.