According to the United Nations Convention, persons with disabilities are among the hardest hit by COVID-19.
Even under normal circumstances, it has been relatively competitive economically for these special persons in environments where discrimination exist.
The United Nations Convention described Persons with disabilities to include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments, which in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
More so, the World Health Organization, in 2018 reports that about 29 million of the over 200 million Nigerians were living with a disability.
Although a distinct absence of data pertaining to disability prevalence and the different forms of disabilities persists in Nigeria, available statistics online show that there are over twenty seven million Nigerians living with some form of disability, with the most common types to include visual , hearing, physical , and communication impairment.
The fact that Persons with disabilities are among the hardest hit by COVID-19 is worrisome.
Asides from issues like less access to health care and education, these people tend to find it difficult getting employment making them more likely to live in poverty
The Convener of a popular Charity organisation for People With Disabilities, Holyspirit Buffet In organisation, Mrs. Oluwakemi Sarumi who decried the lack of attention, especially from government at the grassroots, said the nation would benefit a lot if the people with special needs are given opportunity to be involved in the economic recovery drive.
Sarumi stated that “Teach them what to do, if they have a trade, they would not beg in the streets. I too was able before, and I have a sin who has cerebral palsy, and we are not doing badly. If the government should help, people will not just be throwing money at them in traffic”
Mrs Sarumi pointed out that many of the Special people are intelligent and productive.
She noted that the pandemic compounded the economic situation of people with disabilities in humanitarian settings as some of them had to do extra for them to get noticed, considered or profit from their endeavours.
“There are disabled making Barbecue, making music, and so many other profession, but they need to work extra hard to market, get customers and be profitable”
Despite the enactment of the disability law by the Federal Government and some states in the Federation, to safeguard the rights of persons with disabilities, the attitude of some Nigerians to people with special needs is still a source of concern
The Convener of Coalition of Disability Organisations, Mr. David Anyaele said government institutions must take the lead in the campaign against discrimination.
“The stigma and discrimination we face in this country in propelled by the State. They don’t want to see people with disabilities, they classify you as a trouble maker, as someone who is not supposed to come out. Many see you like as someone who committed a sin”
“There are people who feed fat from charity basedbased approach of addressing people with disabilities” Anyaele added
He pointed out that many of the Persons with disabilities are indeed intelligent, and people like that are needed in rebuilding the nation
Respondents however believe that Disability inclusion is critical to reducing poverty , and resuscitation of the economy.