A NATIONAL workshop on inclusion of People With Disabilities (PWDs) in national development opened in Abuja yesterday to appraise the integration and performance of this class of citizens in the federal civil service.
The Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HOS), Alhaji Isa Bello Sali, said the inclusion of the physically challenged persons in the service was not just in conformity with “objective 3(24b) of the Continental Plan of Action for the African Decade of Persons With Disabilities (1999 to 2019)” but an opportunity to contribute to national development.
He said “the intention is to determine to what extent Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have variously integrated the services of these persons into the development agenda, and if they have been fully integrated as expected, to ascertain their level of performance in assigned roles and responsibilities in relation to government overall national development agenda.”
Sali said the establishment of a Disability Desk “is to provide an avenue through which government can ensure that the environment in which PWDs function is not only conducive but that it should take cognizance of the physical and psychological conditions imposed by their disabilities.”
According to him, efforts have been made by government to provide certain privileges that were hitherto not there, like the establishment of a database of PWDs in the public service to ensure that they are adequately integrated into the scheme of things in the federal service, organising a quarterly interactive forum for them to facilitate cohesion and on going survey of PWDs in the federal civil service to determine their specific disabilities and how best to assist them to function better in their work places.”
Oluwaseun Omojola, a PWD participant at the workshop, said “initially it was really difficult to cope with working in an environment where everybody knows you are employed on compassionate grounds, but with time, so much have changed and it is all fine now.”
She lamented, however, that some people still regard PWDs as incomplete and not capable of carrying out some tasks, but “as they are deficient in one aspect of their bodies, they make up with another feature for that defect.”
Sali demanded that the office of the HOS should be fashioned appropriately with the outcome of the workshop and with details of the peculiar challenges affecting the performance and productivity of the disabled persons in the various MDAs because it will enable him “ensure that these obstacles are removed to enable diligence and good results.”