Sightsavers Nigeria, an NGO, on Friday said about 90 per cent of Persons Living with Disabilities (PLwDs) are unemployed.
The organisation also attributed the under-employment to societal discrimination.
Mr Rasak Adekoya, the Communication Officer of Sightsavers Nigeria, disclosed this in a statement in Abuja to celebrate Workers Day.
Adekoya urged government at all levels to grant disabled persons equal rights to work to improve their lives and reduce the pool of vulnerable people in the country.
“As the world celebrates labour day this global COVID-19 pandemic, we are commending social workers and care givers, ensuring people with disabilities live healthy by providing them with emotional, social, economic and psychological support.
“While no one has an immune system to resist the Coronavirus disease, it has been proven that our level of vulnerability differs, depending on context.
“People with disabilities are the largest vulnerable group in Nigeria and they are likely to be among those who suffer most during this lockdown.
“With over 20 million persons with disability in Nigeria, more than 90 per cent of working age are yet to have equal rights to employment, both in the formal and informal sectors.
“This is owing to attitudinal, institutional, environmental and communication barriers,” he said.
Adekoya said the level of implementation of Disability Act signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in January 2019, and domesticated by Lagos, Ondo, Jigawa, Plateau and Anambra States was still low.
According to him, PLwDs can contribute to the development of the nation’s economy if rightly employed.
Adekoya said the World Bank’s rightly reported that a country that was inclusive of PLwDs in its development plan and fully harnesses their talents would likely increase its Gross Domestic Product by three to eight per cent.
“If both private and government employers had invested, given opportunities to thousands of PLwDs prior to COVID-19, it would have reduced the number of vulnerable groups they will cater for during this global economic lockdown.
“They would have been earning, build some level of resilience and possibly recover quickly post COVID-19,” he said.
Adekoya also said that the future of work would change to virtual space post COVID-19.
He said that this would create opportunities for employers willing to reduce their operational cost to employ people with disabilities.
He said that most online meeting platforms, productivity tools and softwares were becoming accessible which provide opportunities for PLwDs to work effectively in their organisations.
Adekoya said that the NGO was working with the Department for International Development on its Inclusion Works project and other NGOs across Lagos, Kano and FCT to provide technical assistance for employers to repose confidence in disabled people.
According to him, there is ability in disability but most importantly, productivity in disability.
The Sightsavers Nigeria has been working in Nigeria for over 60 years, preventing and eliminating avoidable blindness and promoting equal rights of people with disabilities.