In the aftermath of the federal government’s decision to remove the petroleum subsidy, the Edo Disability Forum (EDF) has sounded an alarm, shedding light on the severe economic challenges faced by Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in the state.
During a press conference held on Thursday in Benin City, the EDF revealed distressing findings from a recent survey conducted across the three senatorial districts. The survey highlighted the profound impact of the subsidy removal on PWDs, prompting concerns about their well-being and raising awareness about the urgency for collective action.
Melody Omosah, the convener of the forum, expressed deep concern, revealing that some individuals with disabilities are contemplating suicide due to their inability to provide for themselves and their families in the wake of the subsidy removal.
“Persons with disabilities no longer have the means to eat twice a day; many are sacrificing their meals just to ensure their children can eat,” lamented Omosah during the press conference.
Despite acknowledging Governor Godwin Obaseki’s commendable efforts towards the welfare of PWDs, Omosah emphasized the need for sustainable solutions. These include the establishment of a disability commission, the reinforcement of existing laws, and ensuring the representation of PWDs in decision-making processes at the highest levels of government. These measures aim to create an inclusive and resilient society in Edo.
The gravity of the situation was further underscored by Omosah, who pointed out that the estimated 675,000 PWDs in Edo State, based on 2019 data, are grappling with the repercussions of the fuel subsidy removal. The absence of a specific social protection mechanism has left them vulnerable, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and disability.
The Edo Disability Forum, consisting of various disability cluster groups, has laid out an agenda to engage the state government. Their goal is to advocate for the implementation of functional social protection mechanisms to alleviate the hardships faced by PWDs in the aftermath of the subsidy removal.
As Edo grapples with the socio-economic implications of subsidy removal, the plea from the disability forum resonates, urging policymakers and stakeholders to prioritize the well-being of all citizens, ensuring that no one is left behind in the evolving post-subsidy landscape.