Mon. May 20th, 2024
participants at the VOSAC first public lecture in Abuja

Ene Oshaba 

Voice for Special Needs and Abused Children (VOSAC) Foundation, has urged the National Population Commission (NPC) to not ignore the rights of Persons With Disabilities (PWD’s) to be counted in the upcoming 2023 Population and Housing Census.

The Foundation wants State Actors to give priority to the inclusion of people living with disabilities in the 2023 census.

Its Founder and President, Dr. Uche Amanambu, made the call during its first public lecture with the theme, “Understanding People with Special Needs: 2023 in Focus” held at the Nicon Luxury Hotel,  Abuja.

Amanambu stressed the need for accurate data of PWD’s to enable government plan for them,  noting that current population estimate shows that out of over 200 million Nigerians, 27million are people living with disabilities,  a number too large to ignore in any development plans.

She emphasised the importance of census towards helping the government in making adequate plans for citizens, stressing that PWD’s should not be excluded from these plans.

“Over the last few governments,  plans of government have included infrastructural development,  agricultural boosts, social welfare schemes , medium, small and micro business (MSME) development and job creation.  

“We believe that these plans need to have a framework that accommodates people with disabilities,” she stressed.

“It is apt to ask ourselves,  how can the government develop infrastructure that provides special access for people with disabilities such as rail guides in buses, along bridges that assist visually impaired, or ramps that ease access for people with disabilities in government transport systems. 

“How can people with disabilities access job opportunities or MSMES grants online without experiencing the difficulty of traveling long distances,  or in some instances travel long distances multiple times because of the bottlenecks of service administration in these offices, ” she added. 

She therefore called on all Nigerians to enable people with disabilities integrate properly in the society by interacting with them for who they are and not the disabilities they have, adding that they need support at all levels of governance to ensure that they are counted come census 2023.

Responding, the Director Census, at the National Population Commission Olanipekun Arin, assured that no one will be left behind in the upcoming census  hence the slogan; “You count, be counted”.

Arin noted that to ensure a credible census the Commission carried out an Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD) to enable an all inclusive head count, explaining that the demarcation exercise divided the country into small units including buildings to ensure easy count of all and sundry. 

“Demarcation helped us to divide the country into small units with every of those units dependent to another. Every building has also been recorded and we have digital map that shows every building in the country on the satellite so it will be outrightly difficult to leave anyone out.

“The 2023 census will be revolutionary and the data generated will be a baseline information for development planning, ” she said.

“We won’t leave anyone behind especially PWD’s and that is why specific global standard questions on disability has been created to enable us capture accurate data and information of all PWD’s across the country, ” she added.

Representing the National Commission of PWD’s, Patience Dickson Ogolo, noted that in the past many persons with disabilities were excluded from the census due to various reasons,  she however stressed the need for all to be counted to enable government with policy and development planning of specific needs of all citizens. 

In his presentation, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on disability matters to the the Amac Chairman, Hon. Engr. Kaura Joseph Zamwawosayi, stated the need for engagement of PWD’s experts to get it right with PWD’s during the census exercise, calling for their recruitment as adhoc staff too, while also stressing the need for support for them to be gainfully employed to boost their confidence and enable them take care of themselves. 

Also, the Former HOD, Inclusive Policy Implementation at the Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA) Education Secretariat,  Jane Onyekwelu, said a credible census will provide accurate data for development planning,  urging the commission to ensure that all citizens especially those with disabilities are captured because they also matter in the society. 

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