The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC), Sir Bassey Dan-Abia, has urged the physically challenged youths from the Niger delta region, under the umbrella of the Niger Delta Coalition of Persons with Disabilities to continue to be peaceful in their agitations, noting that the people of the Niger Delta have gone past the era of violent protests and have since embraced dialogue.
He said that one of the major planks of the Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government was the maintenance of peace and security.
Dan-Abia who addressed the physically challenged persons at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt said that “You have genuine grievances, but you have a duty to present them peacefully. You have listed a number of things that you believe will help to alleviate the conditions of the disabled persons. We need to have these requests in writing to enable us discuss and arrive at satisfactory action plans. You don’t need to block the highway to make your point,”.
Sir Dan-Abia said that the NDDC had been running various youth empowerment programmes which were usually non-discriminatory. He, however, agreed that there should be special provisions for persons with disability, especially those who were qualified for employment and scholarships. He promised that henceforth, a certain percentage would be set aside for persons with disability in NDDC programmes to ensure that the less fortunate one were not left behind.
In his response the President of the group, Mr. David Enogho said they were forced to block the gates of the NDDC because they were neglected and abandoned because of their disability. He said that the coalition of persons with disability had no other option but to engage in public protest to call the attention of the NDDC to their plight. “We are protesting non-inclusion of our members in NDDC programmes. We have been neglected over the years and our members are not benefitting from NDDC scholarships and training and other empowerment programmes of NDDC. So, we expect the NDDC to come out with an action plan that will address the peculiar needs of our members,” Enogho said.
The NDDC boss assured the disabled persons that the Commission would engage their leaders in a strategic meeting within the next two weeks to fully address all their concerns.