Physically challenged people are faced with numerous challenges, especially daily survival as they are often neglected or stigmatised by the
society. In this piece, PETER AHEMBA writes that the situation is however different in Nasarawa State due to the attention given to them by relevant
authorities.

 

THAT people living with physical
challenges in their body have
continued to suffer all kinds of
discrimination in the society is an
unarguable. It is also true that this
segment of the society does not only
suffer discrimination/stigmatisation
from privileged members of the
society including their family
members in many instances but
are also neglected by government
agencies and institutions that are
saddled with the responsibility of
involving policies and programmes
that could alleviate their pitiful
condition.
In most states of the federation,
including Kaduna State, the
implementation of some policies
capable of worsening the already bad
situation of the physically challenged
persons have been ongoing. The
Kaduna State government has since
enforced the policy on the ban on
street begging without provision of
alternative for the people affected by
the policy.
It would be recalled that in 2015,
Governor El-Rufai announced the
ban on street begging in the state and
directed that anyone caught begging
on the streets of the state should be
arrested and prosecuted. This policy
no doubt generated concerns from
individuals and organisations within
and outside the country with critics
describing the ban as inhuman.
That was owing to the fact that no
alternative means was provided
before the implementation of the
controversial policy.
In Nasarawa State, the story is
however different as people living
with disability are rather singing

Halleluiah due to the attention giving
to them by the Governor Umaru Tanko
Al-Makura-led administration. The
state government has continued to
show sensitivity to the plights of the
physically challenged persons through
the provision of welfare packages and
other incentives to enhance their living
condition.
He was the first governor since the
creation of the state in 1996 to have
hosted people with disability at a dinner
to where they had the opportunity and
privilege of freely interacting with the
Governor just to give them a sense of
belonging.
According to Al-Makura, “It is sad
to see that people discriminate against
those living with one form of disability
or the other. Personally, I have faced the
same challenge especially while I was
campaigning to become the governor of
the state.
“Today, my administration has done
what other previous governments that
were led by people who are not disabled
could not do.”
This paper observed that apart from
the employment of a greater number
of persons with disability into the state
civil service and appointment of some
of them into key government positions
under the current dispensation, the state
government has awarded contract for
the construction of three Special Schools
worth over N160million. Each would be
located at the three Senatorial Districts
of the state to carter for the educational
needs of the physically challenged

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persons, including the award of special
scholarship to many of them to study
from primary to university level.
Speaking on the special schools
project recently, Al-Makura assured
that the state government would upon
commissioning the project collect data
of the disabled persons with a view to
engaging over 2,000 professionals to
train them on various skills.
One of the persons living with
disability in the state, Mrs. Sarah
Dogo, had attested to the humanitarian
gestures of the governor towards
their members when she expressed
delight with disposition of the state
government towards the plights of the
victims.
According to her, “It is only during
Governor Al-Makura’s government
that physically challenged persons got
15 houses allocated to them by the state
government. We have been enjoying
equal treatment in terms of education
and other social services compare to
previous administrations in the state”.
Nigerian Pilot recall that, perhaps in
line with the governor’s concern for
the well-being of the less privileged
in the society took over the upkeep of
a 10-year old disable Useni Abubakar
of Lafia Local Government Area of the
state. The boy who had been suffering
from polio virus that eventually
resulted to his present condition offered
to take over the upkeep of the child
considering his pitiful situation.
“It is in my character and it is also a
policy of my administration to see that

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the common man on the street that
has no body to carter for him lives
happily like every other person in the
society. Such people need to be shown
love in order for them to feel a sense
of belonging”.
The governor shortly after his
interaction with the boy made a cash
donation of the sum of Fifty thousand
naira (N50, 000.00) to take care of his
immediate needs and directed that a
tricycle be given to him immediately
to aid his movement from one point
to another. He also maintained his
readiness to take full responsibility
of not only his up-keep but also
sponsor his education from Primary
to whatever level he might want to
attain educationally.
Of recent, Governor Al-Makura, at an
event organised for disabled persons
in the state by the British Broadcasting
Corporation (BBC) Hausa and BBC
Media Action, reiterated his appeal
to government and philanthropists
to extend their benevolent by giving
equal opportunity to people living
with disability.
“I call on government at all levels
to consider the physically challenged
persons in the scheme of things. Their
inclusiveness would give them a
sense of belonging in exhibiting their
talents.”
The governor regretted that
physically challenged persons are
neglected in the society as they are
discriminated upon at meetings, social
gatherings, stressing that the victims
suffer suspicion, abuses, deny and
disgraced from the public, insisting
on the need for a change of attitude by
Nigerians and government towards
the physically challenged persons.
Al-Makura had also demonstrated
his commitment to the wellbeing of
the physically challenged persons
when he led a peaceful protest to the
National Assembly, calling for the
passing into law of the bill on people
living with disability. During the
protest, the governor re-echoed the
need for the National Assembly to pass
the bill into law without further delay,
believing that the bill when passed,
would go a long way in addressing the
plights of the physically challenged
persons especially that the bill will
eliminate unnecessary discrimination
against victims.
Analysts averred that the continuous
stigmatisation of this segment of
the society (physically challenged
persons) must be addressed through
change of attitude by all and sundry
and as a matter of fact necessity,
individuals, corporate bodies and
government must emulate the efforts
of the Nasarawa State government by
collectively putting smiles on the faces
of the people living with disability

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