In commemoration of Workers Day 2020, SightSavers Nigeria has called on the Private sector, Federal and States government to promote equal opportunity for persons with disabilities to access formal employment.
Sight Savers Nigeria, an international development organisation working on preventing and eliminating avoidable blindness and promoting the equal rights of people with disabilities, made the call in a press release signed by Razaq Adekoya, Team Lead, SightSavers Inclusion Works Project.
Adekoya stressed that the despite the passage of the National Disability Act, it has not reflected positively on the employment of persons with disabilities.
He said, “With over 20 million persons with disability in Nigeria, more than 90% of working age are yet to have equal right to employment, both in the formal and informal sector owing to attitudinal, institutional, environmental and communication barriers.
“Despite the signing of the discrimination against prohibition act by the President in January 2019 and few States like Lagos, Ondo, Jigawa, Plateau and Anambra having their own State disability law with a disability agency established, government is yet to implement and realize the potentials persons with disabilities can contribute to the economy if employed.
“According to World Bank, a country that is inclusive of persons with disabilities in its development planning and fully annex their talent will likely increase its GDP by 3-8%.”
Speaking on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on persons with disabilities, Adekoya noted that “If both private sector employer, national and State government had invested and give opportunity to thousands of people with disabilities prior to COVID-19, it will have significant impact in decreasing the number of vulnerable groups they will cater for during this global economic lockdown.
“They would have been earning, build some level of resilience and possibly recover quickly post COVID-19.”
He urged employers of labour to leverage on the opportunity that the pandemic has created and recruit more persons with disabilities into their workforce.
“The future of work will change to the virtual space post COVID-19 and this pose a significant opportunity for employers who are willing to reduce their operational cost to employ people with disabilities. Most online meeting platforms, productivity tools and software’s are becoming accessible and this provides opportunity for PWDs to work effectively, contribute and meaningfully participate in decision making in the organisation.
“Although there are certain gaps, but through the DFID Inclusion Works project, Sightsavers is working with five organisation of persons with disabilities – The Albino Foundation, Nigeria Association of the Blind, Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria, Network of Disabled Women and Kanawa Educational Foundation for the Disabled across Lagos, FCT and Kano to provide technical assistance in building the disability confidence of employers, enhancing the employability skills, competence and job readiness of people with disabilities, advocating to government and private sector to give equal right and opportunity to people with disabilities.
“When they say there is ability in disability, we change the narrative and strongly believe there is productivity in disability.”