The Kebbi State Youth Empowerment and Vulnerability Programmes Office is to support Youth Living With Disabilities in accessing the Special Funds set aside by the Central Bank of Nigeria under the Micro, Small and Medium Entrepreneurs Development Fund (MSMEDF).

This was disclosed by the State Co-ordinator, Usman Buhari Ali, during a meeting with Kebbi Social Security and Welfare Fund and the Kebbi State Branch of the Joint National Association of People with Disabilities (JONAPD).

The Chairman of the JONAPD, Abdullahi Aliyu Usman informed that the Association was formed to create awareness to its members on importance of self-reliance and problems associated with begging, also to support and empower its members from provisions of interventions from government and philanthropists.

The Chairman identified lack of accurate data to affect having a factual figure of their members, but said there can be up to 500,000 physically challenged people across the State. He described challenges faced by people with disabilities to be encouraged by their families, communities, religion, educational system and lack of access to finances, hence begging remains the only alternative. He further called on the government to support their young ones with education, the middle aged with modern skills and the elderly ones with monthly stipends so as to prevent them from street begging. He indicated interest of the disabled people to be within the areas of skill acquisition and agricultural activities, especially in animal husbandry, fish farming, poultry and feed formulation.

The Director of Social Security Welfare in the Kebbi State Social Security Welfare Fund, Muhammad Haruna Gulma expressed his happiness with the readiness of the Youth Empowerment and Vulnerability Programmes Office to support young people with disabilities, describing that this will eliminate begging among the major and active group of the disabled people. He recalled that the State Government has supported the Fund in training of about 1,600 disable people on different skills between 2005 to 2008, but since then funding stopped and they could not go beyond supporting them with distribution of food items during festivities and little financial support to sustain some of the activities of the Association.

The Director said that the Fund has so far identified about 12,000 trainable People With Disabilities across the State, he further called on the State Government to improve on welfare of the disable persons as last year they could not even access funds to distribute food items to the disabled people.

Earlier, the State Co-ordinator of the Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO), Usman Buhari Ali disclosed that the State Government is concerned about the welfare of the people living with disabilities and urged the Office to look into the possibility of supporting them to become self-reliance. Hence, they felt it is most appropriate to look into funding mechanisms which will support them in enterprise development and strategic behavioural change. He described the efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria on taking into cognizance the importance of People Living With Disabilities and even setting aside some funds to enable them become self-reliance.

The State Co-ordinator said that the Bank funds are credit facilities which will be first provided to about 150 economically active disabled persons in view of encouraging them into entrepreneurship, as each person could access as much as N500,000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira). He urged the Association to hasten the identification of potential beneficiaries so that they can be assessed and the process of securing the credit facility to begin immediately. He assured them of the continuous support of the Kebbi State Government under the leadership of Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu. He also told them that the YESSO which was set up to look into creating employment and empowerment opportunities for the youth and vulnerable people, will make special provisions for the disabled youth, especially the most vulnerable among them in accessing activities surrounding the Skills For Job, Public Work Fare and Conditional Cash Transfer programmes which are expected to commence soon.

He further called on the Kebbi State Security and Social Welfare Fund to advocate for intensifying their mandate to also cover activities related to Vulnerability and the Internally Displaced Persons because they all need Social Security and doing that will also increase their capacity to benefit from numerous government programmes and interventions targeting people that are affected by circumstances. While assuring the Association of support from his Office in developing a database for the Association, he emphasized on the need for the JONAPD to carry along all clusters of people living with disabilities, including the Albinos, Mentally Intellectuals, and People With Spinal Cord Injuries.

The meeting had representatives from Kebbi State Chapters of the National Association for the Blind, National Association for the Physically Challenged, National Association for the Deaf and the Integration for Dignity and Economic Advancement (Leprosy)

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