By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
About 19,000 persons living with different forms of disability have been empowered by the MTN Foundation to acquire different skills and training that will enable them become self-reliant, the Director of the Foundation, Aishatu Sadauki, said in Abuja.
She said this while speaking at a programme to celebrate this year’s International Day of Persons With Disabilities, which has the theme “Disability: Breaking down the barriers.”
According to her, the Disability Support Project of MTN in Nigeria has also impacted different skills on about 100 young persons with disabilities through its skill acquisition training programmes.
Aishatu Sadauki, also disclosed that the trainees have benefitted from a micro credit scheme under the MTN Foundation Skills Acquisition Project.
The Director pointed out that these empowerment programmes were executed in collaboration with federal, state and local governments at their levels to ensure that persons living with disabilities are empowered with opportunities to improve their living standard.
Sadauki also said the foundation has awarded 833 under-graduate scholarships to blind students in public tertiary institutions and over 291 individuals have graduated from the MTNF Scholarship Scheme for Blind Students.
“We didn’t stop there; we went further to equip these graduates with the requisite skills to thrive in today’s dynamic and highly competitive job market, through employability workshops.
“We will continue to give our best efforts. We will continue to collaborate with diverse stakeholders to support all persons living with disabilities to break down barriers,” she said.
In her remarks, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Aisha Abubakar, said globally, disability remained one of the major challenges that continually threaten human existence and the attainment of meaningful development.
She said her ministry has taken it upon itself to give more attention to issues relating to barriers faced by persons with disabilities.
“Disability issues are too important to be ignored, therefore, letters have been sent to the 36 states of the federation and the federal capital territory (FCT), academic institutions, cultural centres and our development partners to ensure full participation in marking this year’s International Day of Persons With Disabilities.
“This will serve as awareness creation, sensitisation and public enlightenment campaigns, which are expected to bring lasting change, in line with the Change Agenda of Mr. President.
“The Federal Government remains committed towards doing her best to cater for the needs of all her citizens, PWDs inclusive for national development, where no one is left behind,” she said.
Senior Special Assistant on Persons Living With Disability to President Muhammadu Buhari, Dr. Samuel Ankeli, said the president has directed the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency to employ 1000 persons living with disabilities in the 36 states, including the FCT.
“SMEDAN has been directed to empower 1000 persons with disabilities in each state in the next twelve month. I assure you that your lives are important to the president,” he said.