The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has reiterated the importance of giving opportunities to persons living with disability, in its efforts at making the development of the Niger Delta region integrative, inclusive and sustainable.
Speaking at the presentation of letters of engagement to twelve new employees of the Commission who are physically challenged in Port Harcourt, Interim Administrator/CEO of NDDC, Mr. Efiong Okon Akwa, said the Commission was determined to harness the potentials of all Niger Deltans in order to make the region a better place.
Mr. Akwa said that NDDC “is perhaps the first Federal Government agency to begin the implementation of the Act on persons living with disability which was passed into law in 2019,” adding: “This shows that we are human and we understand and care for others, thereby impacting the lives of people in the region, regardless of their physical condition.”
The NDDC Boss stated: “It is our view that this gesture the government has shown to you will prompt you to extend same to your friends and relatives. We want you to be ambassadors of this government, this Commission and the people of the Niger Delta, so as to serve as a source of motivation to others.”
Mr. Akwa gave credit to President Muhammadu Buhari for directing the agency to intervene, not only in physical infrastructure projects, but also in human capacity building.
“By passing the disability rights law the government,” he said, “has committed to ensuring that people living with disability enjoy their human rights. This is to instil a sense of responsibility, recognition and pride, as well as ownership, in persons living with disability. That is why we are intervening in your lives, and in the lives of all Niger Deltans.”
Mr. Akwa noted that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, who forwarded government’s approval for the engagement, had stated that “President Muhammadu Buhari is aware of what you are passing through and is doing his best to ensure that government stands by you. It is not your choice to live with disability.”
He added: “It is a condition you found yourselves in. But it will not stop you from adding your quota to the development of the Niger Delta, Nigeria and humanity.”
Also speaking at the ceremony, the Director of Human Resources of the Commission, Barr. Silas Anyanwu, said that “this is an epoch-making event, because the NDDC has shown, as perhaps the first government agency to give employment to persons living with disability, that we are mindful of all Niger Deltans, and that we are prepared to work with everyone to develop this region.”
He called on them to give their best in their duties, stating that while the Commission will provide every support to make their work easier, “no one would receive any special favours or considerations. It is important for you to know that we expect the best from you, because to whom much is given, much is expected.”
The regional chairman of the Joint Association of People Living with Disability, Mr. Simon Bidei, thanked the Commission for coming to the aid of persons living with disability, noting that “it was the first of its kind.”
He stated: “NDDC has made history today, by giving us the opportunity to serve. We are grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari, to the honourable minister and the interim administrator for remembering us and knowing that we are living with capability.”
He called on other organisations to emulate NDDC, noting that the Commission had taken into consideration the needs of persons living with disability in constructing the new headquarters building.