Nigerian Association of the Blind (NAB) FCT Chapter has called on Federal Civil Service Commission to implement 5% workforce for Persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the recruitment for all Ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in accordance with section 29 of Discrimination against Persons with disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018, improve accessibility of their office and ensure reasonable accommodation for PWDs at the workplace.
This call was made during an advocacy visit embarked by the group to Federal Civil Service Commission where they met with Hon. Joe Philip Poroma, the Commissioner in charge of Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta States who also serves as disability desk officer for the Commission.
The advocacy is part of NAB FCT project supported by Disability Rights Fund (DRF) to improve the access to employment opportunities by PWDs in the FCT.
The Project lead, Mr. Obinna Ekujereonye in his speech, said that PWDs suffer so much in Nigeria and in terms of employment opportunities, it is even the worst, it is only a very few PWDs are gainfully employed.
“PWDs are nowhere to be in the economic ladder because of lack of employment, after struggling to graduate, we will search for job everywhere and nobody is willing to employ us. Lack of accessibility to public building is one of the contributing factor to it”.
He informed that the President in 2019, signed Discrimination against Persons with disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018 which now made the right to work, accessibility of public building and reasonable accommodation at the workplace for PWDs an obligation and no longer a favour to PWDs.
He called on the Commission to liaise with other MDAs to ensure that the 5% workforce for PWDs implemented. He urged the Commission as an agency saddled with responsibility of recruitment of other MDAs to be a pacesetter by meeting the 5% in the Commission and also ensuring the provision of the accessibility facilities of the Commission.
Theophilus Odaudu, the program officer at Disability Rights Fund (DRF) in his speech, said that in the poverty index, PWDs at the bottom because of lack of access to source of livelihood so it is very important that we put necessary policies in place and take necessary step to ensure that 30 million Nigerians with disabilities have access to employment.
DRF is supporting the project to ensure that PWDs have access to employment opportunity in order to improve their standard of living.
It is important to note that lack of facilities is another thing that have great impact in the denial of employment opportunities to PWDs. This necessitated the call of Reasonable Accommodation to ensure that PWDs are provided with the facilities that they need to operate effectively in the workplaces and MDAs will no longer deny PWDs employment on the basis of inadequate facilities. This is important because it will enhance the employment of PWDs and not treat PWDs as second class citizens.
Hon. Joe Philip Poroma in his response reassured that group that 5% workforce as it is enshrined in the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018 is sacrosanct, the commission have studied the act and they are abreast with the provisions of the act and they will ensure that 5% workforce of PWDs is implemented.
He said that as soon as the Federal Government lift embargo on employment, the commission would consider the 5% and ensure that it is carried out by every commissioner in the states they cover. He promised that the Commission will inform the National Commission for Persons with disabilities when the opportunity comes up and advised the group to encourage persons with disabilities to apply when the time comes so that the 5% would be met because they are going to draw the 5% from the number of PWDs presented themselves for employment.
On the issue of accessibility of their office, he said that the commission has started doing something, a ramp has been constructed at the entrance of the commission and a lift is yet to be in place but that would be done. He said that when it comes to reasonable accommodation, the commission have no jurisdiction over that because the Commission work on employment for Federal government.
“It is when we have employed you and you are sent to the Head of Service, it is the duty of the Head of Service to ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided for you to ensure you job satisfaction” he stated.
The Chairman, NAB FCT, appreciated Hon. Joe Philip Poroma for his kind disposition towards PWDs and urged him to continue to be kind towards PWDs and use his office to ensure that the commission comply to laws and policies favourable to PWDs in Nigeria.