Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo says the Federal Government is proud of its accomplishments especially in the Social Investment Programme, adding that the social protection inherent in it is an entitlement of the citizens, including Persons Living With Disabilities (PWD), regardless of which administration or political party is in power.
In another development, the Vice President stated that government must also strive to build national cohesion by supporting the implementation of initiatives that will improve relationships among ethnicities and religions in the country.
Those views were expressed when he received on courtesy visits to the Presidential Villa, delegations from the FCT People Living With Disabilities Community and the “Reading Against Intolerance Initiative” – a national campaign aimed at promoting unity and tolerance among primary school children in Nigeria.
Speaking to the delegation of FCT PWD Community led by its chief, Alhaji Suleiman Mohammed, the VP said “Government has a duty for providing for persons with disability. We believe that as a matter of law, as a matter of policy, and our government must provide for those who have disability and who for some reason or the other, may not be able to work in ways that those who have no disability may be able to.”
Continuing, he noted that “it is not a favour, it is government policy and people must enjoy it as government policy, that is how things are done. We have tried our best to put in policies for the right things to be done government after government, so that it becomes normal for a government to do those things. I hope and pray that the next government will do the same thing.”
In fact, the Vice President also referred to the Act signed by President Muhammadu Buhari – Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2019, saying by policy and law, the entitlements of the PWD are already in place.
Referencing the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programme (SIP), the VP said implementing social protection for poor people is important even if a difficult task to achieve.
According to him, “the Social Investment Programme is one of the biggest in Africa. We provided for young people who had no employment (N-Power); we provided Conditional Cash Transfer for the poorest Nigerians, although it was only 1 million, we were able to provide for.
“We provided TraderMoni, MarketMoni, for 2.4 million traders. The Homegrown School Feeding Programme, where we were able to provide feeding for 9.5 million children every day. We are proud of the fact that we were able to provide these services to the people.”
The VP also observed some of the challenges in implementation, noting that “some of these things are very difficult to do not because of money but it is difficult to find people of integrity who will deliver these projects in the same honesty and concern for the people that those who designed the programme had. The President of course is one that you know, is very concerned about the underprivileged. But you cannot deliver big programmes without honest people which is why I am extremely proud of the work that has been done by our Community Engagement people.” (The VP was referring to the Community Engagement Unit of his office).
The VP expressed hope that successive governments would build on the template already established by the present administration, noting that “we must see improvement, in our part of the world, things are tied to individuals, it shouldn’t be, especially when it comes to matters that affect the dignity of our own people. And these things must keep improving.”
While commending the FCT People Living With Disabilities Community for their perseverance and commitment to demanding for better welfare for its members, Prof. Osinbajo said “we must continue to pursue this as entitlement for people with disability because of the law and policy of government. Let’s be hopeful that the coming months and years will be better and fruitful.”
Earlier in his remarks, the spokesman of the group, Alhaji Muhammad Dantani, thanked the Vice President for all that he has done directly and indirectly for the People Living With Disabilities (PWD) community in Nigeria and particularly in the FCT, describing the VP as the “father of the fatherless, hope for the hopeless and voice to the voiceless.”