IFAD engages physically-challenged in policy dialogue

 Coordinators advocate more     involvement, raise social    inclusion ceiling 

IFAD engages physically-challenged in policy dialogue
– Coordinators advocate more 
   involvement, raise social
   inclusion ceiling 



By Raymond Benson
In response to International Fund for Agricultural Development’s (IFAD), policy of Strategic Development Goal, (SDG) of social inclusion, the Abia Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises, Niger Delta, (LIFE-ND), had a policy dialogue with the people living with disabilities in the state.
The Chairman of Abia State Disability Commission, (ABSDC), Mr. Eldad Monu, who spoke through a sign language interpreter, commended the intervention of the project on the people living with disabilities.
He said that the initiative was on the same page with the extant Disability Law of Abia State.
Mr. Monu, who doubled as chairman of the occasion, called on the youths to ignore the misadventure of oil bunkering, rather, to redirect their energy towards agricultural activities.
According to him, agriculture naturally, not only puts food on our tables, but also provides the mainstay of the national economy.
He wondered why this neglect had eaten deep into their psychic.
“The disability law and the Commission are already in Abia State. Being in this dialogue shows that agriculture is important to Disability Commission because we believe in agriculture.
L-R.. National Coordinator, Rural Institution, Youth and Gender, LIFE-ND, Dr Clement Uwem and Abia LIFE-ND Coordinator, Dr Uchenna Onyeizu.


“In the past many people engage in agriculture, but now the focus is on oil, but we’ll keep pushing to achieve success. We thank you for the 5% social inclusiveness,” he said.
The Abia LIFE-ND Coordinator, Uchenna Rowland Onyeizu, Ph.D, blamed the Nigeria government for the “unfair treatment” of the people with disabilities, especially in terms of policy development and implementation.
He called on sister projects to correct this “mistake” through conscious social inclusion in their priority programmes.
The state coordinator promised to double the current 5% social inclusion to 10%, should the beneficiaries show genuine “interest, involvement and commitment” in chosen enterprises.
“If I get your cooperation, participation, commitment, I’ll try and push it up by 10%,” he promised.

The National Coordinator, Rural Institution, Youth and Gender, Clement Uwem, Ph.D, who represented the national office, said that development would not make real meaning and impact, if physically challenged are excluded from Strategic Development Goal, (SDG).
Dr. Uwem said he could hardly imagine states in Nigeria to have initiated dual commitments, both in laws and establishment of commission, except Abia State.
 He lauded the government for this exemplary initiative.
“I am sure that not up to four states, out of the 36, have this kind of structure,” he noted.
He identified similar policy dialogues, like access to land, credit loans, agriculture youth network, with ADP on extension services, which had been held in the past, noting that physically challenged persons played critical roles as stakeholders in these discussions.
…Dr Onyeizu addressing participants.


The State Rural Institution Youth and Gender Officer, Deacon Anthony Nwaobilor, said that the dialogue succeeded in identifying specific problems in areas of disabilities, and ready to disaggregate them into clusters for good results.
Such clusters are to be graded according to their disabilities: the blind, dumb, cripple, spinal cord injury.
Others include, albinos, autism and those cured of leprosy.
Also speaking on the occasion, the Director, Disability Department, Ministry of Youth Development, Mrs. Mercy Okezie commended LIFE-ND for their role on assisting this special group of people.
 She was particularly happy with the testimony of Emmanuel Anthony, Ohanze, Obingwa Local Government Area, who the project established a poultry pen with functional water borehole.
A participant, Mr. Vincent Nwabuisi, a mechanical engineer on wheelchair, from Ameke Ibeku, Umuahia North, thanked the project for the inclusion and advised for its sustenance.
The groups during discussion identified, lack of unfriendly physically challenged building, non-support for caregivers, transportation, amongst others, as major challenges to the members of Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities(JONAPWD).



Raymond Benson is Knowledge and Communication Specialist for Abia LIFE-ND.