The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has distributed mobility and hearing aids to people living with disabilities in the Niger Delta region.
Managing Director of the commission, Mr. Nsima Ekere, handed over the items, which included 80 automated wheel chairs, 80 sensor guide canes, 80 German magnifier hearing aids and 40 crutches, to leaders of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, JONAPWD, at the Commission's headquarters in Port Harcourt.
Ekere remarked that some physically challenged people were very talented and gifted, stating that what such people needed was opportunities and support to live meaningful and sustainable lives.
He said: “The days of sympathy are over. NDDC will collaborate with people with disabilities and support them. We will take you to a level where you can realize your full potentials.
“What I will like to see is a situation where people with disabilities own cars and employ drivers. To achieve this, however, you need to have a business that will give you sustainable income. We will support you to achieve this.”
Ekere said that the NDDC Directorate of Youths, Sports Culture and Women Affairs was fully mobilized to engage with people living with disabilities to determine the best ways to help them through special entrepreneurship trainings.
The NDDC boss said that before now, NDDC was getting letters from different groups asking to engage and collaborate, stating: “I am happy that you have now come together to engage the NDDC as a unified group. Now that you are together, we will engage better.”
He advised: “Coming to NDDC to protest will not achieve any positive result. Proper engagement is the only way to get NDDC's attention and get benefits for people living with disabilities:
Speaking earlier, president of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, Mr. Sokari Akpila, appealed to the NDDC to create avenues for skill acquisitions for persons with disabilities so as to enable them build the needed capacity for self-employment.
He said that many people with disabilities find that their situations affect their chances of going to school, working for a living and participating as equals in social life. He lamented that physically challenged people experience discrimination from birth, or from the moment of becoming disabled.
Akpila noted that disabled persons in the Niger Delta region were among the most vulnerable groups in the world, as they were prone to recruitment into armed conflicts and militia activities, prostitution, child labour and other forms of modern-day slavery.
He appealed to the NDDC to assist in organizing sporting activities, especially wheelchair basketball, to create unity among the disabled community in the Niger Delta region and create awareness to end all forms abuse against persons with disabilities.