Despite the commonly known forms of disability conditions in Nigeria and beyond, there are still some forms that appear mysterious to the human cognitive acceptability, so puzzling they seem that sometimes they are seen as inexplicable.
This and many more facts have caught the attention of the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons With Disabilities, Mr James David Lalu who on recent attempts to demistify complications of human disabilities encountered not less than six families whose children had cerebral palsy and were in search of treatment or cure.
However, Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. It is the most common motor disability in childhood. (Cerebral means having to do with the brain)
Historically, this condition has been found to be as a result of some damage in the brain formation within twelve months of the birth of a child.
Unlike Down syndrome which is an over secretion of extra 21 chromosomes in humans, cerebral palsy affects both the brain and the movement of the individual. damage or abnormal development in the parts of the brain that control movement.
These events can happen before, during, or shortly after birth or in the first few years of life, when the brain is still developing. In many cases the exact cause of cerebral palsy is not known.
The Executive Secretary in his usual element has constantly sought the consent of the concerned authorities in the treatment of these conditions.
The statistics according to the University of Ibadan depicted that over a hundred thousand cases of Cerebral palsy yearly can indeed be worrisome. It is on this basis that James Lalu is vehemently advocating for early diagnosis for children within the first few months of birth.
Nonetheless, his zeal towards alleviating the sufferings and challenges of the Disability community has at one time led him to partnering with some stakeholders in the same field in order to identify Psychosocial disability and how the Commission can aid the victims’ integration into the society.
Persons with Psychosocial disorders have been adjudged to experience some setbacks while trying to interact with others in a social environment due to their mental health condition.
On the other hand, the ES’ interactions with the albinism community has birthed an unwavering passion for Persons with Albinism in Nigeria. He has held several programmes with stakeholders such as the Albinism Foundation where a couple of MoUs were signed to support Persons With Albinism.
And not just that, the Commission has offered employments to the cluster in fulfilment of its policy on inclusion.
As a special Agency of government domiciled under the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, funding has been a major barrier to maximizing the potentials of the organization.
Many projects such as the provisions of Assistive devices, surgical procedures, scholarships, Housing have been hampered by the low budgetary releases over the years.
This factor had compelled the ES to create a Unit that would serve as a nexus between the Commission and Development Partners with interest in Disability matters.
The Development Partnership and Programs Unit (DPPU) has been working tirelessly to secure collaboration that would foster inclusivity and visibility of all clusters of Persons With Disabilities across the country.
The NCPWD under the leadership of James Lalu has rightfully positioned self as a digital Agency of government to set up an ICT center that would monitor all cases of discrimination just by the click on the Commission’s app using a simple Android to report any abuse.
It has equally set up a braille center that helps to convert readable materials into braille format for the blind.
To further enhance communications between the deaf and the society, more sign language interpreters have been engaged and assigned to various Units of the Commission. Some of them have also been posted to other government offices to provide services to Deaf Persons.
In terms of Sports development, James Lalu has sponsored some staff of the Commission to compete with their counterparts in the Civil Service Sports festival at the last FEPSGA where one of them (a physically challenged) won a medal at the competition.
His zeal for promoting Paralympics is still in top gear as he is currently in talks with the organizing committee to host the next tournament.
With a growing population of over 35 million Persons With Disabilities, Lalu has initiated Data collation of Persons With Disabilities through bio-data capturing and issuance of electronic cards to certifying persons with Disabilities. This according to him, would assist in aggregating population size.
Nevertheless, to guarantee inclusivity and accessibility, the Commission has developed a regulatory guide which all public facilities and structures must comply with. The moratorium period would elapse by January 2024 to give room for full enforcement.
With these summarized facts on ground, it is only fair and a show of gratitude to judge the ES NCPWD, Mr. James David Lalu in terms, and be seen as an unbiased leader who has no preference for any particular cluster of Persons with Disabilities, Groups nor any Geo -political section of Nigeria over another.
However, it is also worthy of note to state categorically that the National Commission for Persons With Disabilities is the apex Body established by the Federal government of Nigeria to address issues of disabilities and as such, it is expected that all other OPDs and NGOs should operate in line with the 2018 Discrimination against Persons With Disabilities (Prohibition) ACT to enable uniform voice and principles.
NCPWD Press and Public Relations Unit
18th September, 2023