The founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Albino Foundation, Jake Epelle, has revealed that People With Disabilities (PWDs) and poor Nigerians are the worst affected by corruption in government ministries, agencies and departments.
Epelle made the statement while reacting to a report that indicted the Women Affairs and Social Development Ministry for spending a whooping N275 Million on non-existing Rehabilitation Institutes for Persons With Disabilities during a radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG).
According to Epelle, there are many people in government who are completely taking advantage of the poor and making them poorer on a daily basis.
“Most downtrodden suffer the impact of corruption orchestrated by public office holders, these individuals corner these resources, put it in foreign bank account or at home and in most cases, they bury it or give it to their children who lavish it.”
He frowned at the corruption allegations against Women Affairs and Social Development Ministry and other government agencies whose corrupt acts are affecting the wellbeing of PWDs, urging the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) to ensure the current report gets to President Muhammadu Buhari’s table.
While highlighting the challenges faced by PWDs in Nigeria, Epelle said their challenges are multifaceted, adding that the challenges are both spiritual and political.
“Some churches and mosques discriminate when it comes to PWDs. Few years ago, the Jehovah Witness wrote that persons with albinism was a mistake from God and I wrote to them but there was no response. There is social and political implication for persons with physical disabilities but our campaign is focused on all issues.
“Nigeria is still struggling to present the National Albinism policy report. I have gone round to several ministries begging for people with Albinism to be included in the budget so that the workplan can be carried out and it’s been done two times but reversed,” Epelle lamented.
He stressed that the reason why citizens do not believe in public office holders is due to lack of accountability. While lauding the effort of PRIMORG in exposing corruption and corrupt government officials without fear or favour through their radio programs, he, however, lamented that several civil society organisations have been compromised.
Earlier in the program, an Investigative journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Yekeen Akinwale said officials at the Women Affairs and Social Development Ministry made investigation totally difficult.
According to Akinwale, “It is very worrisome that when this kind of corruption report is out, the government who should take action are playing ignorant. The EFCC, ICPC and the Bureau of Public Procurement who have seen these infractions haven’t taken action yet.”
In recommendation, he said: “one area I think the government should focus on is to discourage the idea of budget splitting which is a violation of procurement act.
“If you look at the case we are talking about, the same project was in the budget between 2013 to 2019. it is seen as a deliberate ploy on the side of those deciding the budget to continue to make it happen as if it is a new project and new name so they keep having the money,” Akinwale said.