DISABLED ORGANIZATIONS in the Greater Accra region have expressed their total dissatisfaction with the Chairman of the National Council for Persons with Disability (NCPD), Andrew Okaikoi, on issues concerning the restriction to directly access the 2 per cent monetary fund allocated to people with disabilities through the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF).
This was made known during a press conference held in Accra, amidst protest from the members condemning the action of the Mr. Okaikoi who is the husband of Zita Okaikoi, Minister of Information, and his cohorts at NCPD.
The spokesperson for the disabled organizations, Alhassan Ibrahim, alleged that Ã¢â‚¬Å“a letter, signed by the Chairman of NCPD, Andrew Okaikoi, has been circulated to the all Districts Assemblies in Ghana, instructing them to disburse the 2 per cent of the DACF meant for People with Disabilities (PWDs) to Districts Coordinators bearing letters of introduction issued by himÃ¢â‚¬Â.
As a result of the said letter, the spokesperson said, whenever PWDs try to access the funds for their activities, the Districts Assemblies turned them away empty-handed, citing the letter as the basis for their refusal.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“These so-called District Coordinators are unknown to the PWDs in the districtsÃ¢â‚¬Â, he exclaimed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“As we speak now, we have in our possession not only a copy of the letter provided by the chairman of the NCPD but also a copy of a cheque drawn by an assembly on the possession of the DACF meant for PWDs in favour of the NCPDÃ¢â‚¬Â, he stated.
Alhassan strongly emphasized that there is nowhere in the PWDs Act 715, passed in June 2006, which states that the NCPD Ã¢â‚¬Å“will either share PWDs existing sources, that is the 2percent, revenue with them or take over those sourcesÃ¢â‚¬Â.
According to him, the two copies provide evidence that the said letter is operational, which also means that the NCPD is accessing the 2 per cent of the DACF meant for the PWDs activities.
He lamented that since the inception of the percentage allocation of the DACF to PWDs in 2005 by the previous government, some Districts Assemblies have either refused to disburse the funds equitably, with some receiving less than 2 per cent, or have lackadaisically disbursed to beneficiaries.
To them, he said, they were of the view that with the setting up of the NCPD the council was going to ensure the total and speedy disbursement of the funds by the District Assemblies for their activities.
In addition, he said, their expectation for a fruitful, collaborative and mutually respectful relationship with the council has rather led to the denial of the little resources that they were tapping before the inauguration of the NCPD.
Contributing to the hindrances in their progress, they have also not reaped benefits from the 5 per cent increment of the PWDs funds in the DACF by the NDC government, which was publicly announced by Hon. Minister for Employment and Social Welfare during a programme.
In view of these problems, the PWDs have resorted to their own speculations or assumptions, such as; the NCPD is probably pooling PWDs funds for equitable disbursement to PWDs, which they said violated the principle of decentralization, one of the key policies of the Ghanaian government, he said.
The issue, he explained, was that the PWDs cannot afford to travel all the way from other districts to Accra just to access their share of the DACF to PWDs which is intended to finance solely programmes and projects.
Another speculation mentioned was that the NCPD may be accessing the funds for payments of its administrative overheads which they interpreted if true as Ã¢â‚¬Å“government giving to PWDs with the right hand and taking with the left handÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Furthermore, he has noted that considering all the speculations mentioned, Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is clear that whatever may be the reason behind the NCPD accessing the DACF allocated to PWDs, it cannot be justifiedÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Despite the setbacks, the organizations have however called on the Ghana Federation of the Disabled to collaborate effectively with the NCPD, since they are both relevant institutions in the disability (GFD) movement in Ghana.
On the other hand, the PWDs have urged the GFD to step in and cease the council from accessing the DACF meant for the disabled people as well as withdraw the said letter circulated to the District Assemblies.
The spokesperson in his speech however cautioned a group which calls itself Ã¢â‚¬Å“concerned persons with disabilityÃ¢â‚¬Â to desist from portraying themselves as members of the organization, but rather advised them to come on board so they could work toward one cause.
The press conference however ended with some members of the disabled organizations blocking part of the streets, holding banners with the inscriptions; Ã¢â‚¬Å“Atta save us from OkaikoiÃ¢â‚¬Â, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Atta Sack am nowÃ¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“Okaikoi Adaa Da MeÃ¢â‚¬Â, meaning Okaikoi has deceived me.
By Jessica Amponsah