James Lalu, the executive secretary, National Commission for Persons With Disabilities (NCPWD), says 35.1 million Nigerians are currently living with disabilities.
He made this known during a one-day programme for the issuance of permanent certificates to persons with disabilities in the southeast, held in Owerri on Friday.
The NCPWD boss, represented by the commission’s acting director, compliance and enforcement, Ikem Uchegbulam, said that the figure is based on a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
He explained that the programme was aimed at sensitising persons with disabilities about the benefits of certification, in line with Section 28 of the Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities Act.
He added that while temporary disability certificates could be issued by medical doctors in the event that a person happens to be unable to make use of a body part for some time, permanent disability certificates are issued by the NCPWD.
According to him, only persons with valid disability certificates can obtain and claim remedies under the Act, thus the need for all Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) to obtain certificates.
Mr Lalu also said that “in addition to acting as means of identification, the Act has made the certificate legal requirement for obtaining remedy from the law court, hence the need for possession of the certificate.
“A recent WHO report estimates that about 35.1 million persons have disabilities in Nigeria, so the commission is doing its best to ensure that they have access to all their rights as enshrined in the constitution.”
The Imo commissioner for women affairs and vulnerable groups, Nkechi Ugwu, thanked the commission for its efforts toward alleviating the plight of PWDs.
Mr Ugwu, who was represented by the ministry’s director of administration and finance, Ozioma Nwigwe, said the Imo government would continue to champion the cause of persons living with disabilities in the state.
The event was attended by clusters of the Joint National Association of Persons With Disabilities, including the visually impaired, deaf and the dump.