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CCD Decry Non-Inclusion of PWD on International Day of Persons with Disabilities:

By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja

As Nigeria joins the globe to commemorate this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) has decried the government’s failure to promote awareness of issues surrounding them.

This is even as the Centre commended State governments that have adopted the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018 or passed disability laws in their respective State including Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau, Bauchi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto, and Zamfara States respectively

Others, he said include Abia, Anambra, Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Lagos, Ondo, and Oyo States)

In a statement signed by CCD, Executive Director, David O. Anyaele, it stated that December 3 is a date set aside annually for the observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, with the 2023 day themed: “Transformative Solutions for Inclusive Development: The Role of Innovation in Fueling an Accessible and Equitable World“.

He also called on Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Ogun, Osun, Katsina, Kebbi, Gombe, Rivers, Taraba, and Yobe States governments to take appropriate measures to protect their citizens with disabilities without further delay through the adoption of the Disability Act.

According to Anyaele “We are concerned that Section 2 of the Disability Act, which provides that the Federal Ministry of Information shall make provisions for promotion of awareness regarding- (a) the rights, respect, and dignity of persons with disabilities, (b) the capabilities, achievements, and contributions of persons with disabilities to the society; this has not happened for four years after the passage of the Act.

He further alleged that “Line Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal and States governments are doing little or nothing to ensure the full implementation of the disability law. This is made obvious through the prioritization of disability issues in budgetary provisions by 16 Federal MDAs responsible for disability affairs in Nigeria.

This is made worse in States with a disability commission with little or no resources for operations, turning them into institutions of begging. Therefore, if the governments are not implementing the disability laws in the land, who will protect the rights of PWDs? We call on members of the Federal and States House of Assembly to demand for the budgetary provisions and activities from all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies for the full implementation of the Disability Law.

Recognizing that poverty was the major cause of disability across the world, even as disability itself pushes individuals to poverty as well; he worried that while they are clamoring for the reduction of incidence of disability in the society, it is alarming to note that more than 133 million Nigerians have been plunged into different dimensions of poverty.

“This is a dangerous signal as government policies and programs in the past hardly reached the disability community and the possibility of reaching them in the future is slim as it appears in the non-inclusion of PWDs in the political party manifestos. We are calling on the Federal and States government to ensure that efforts to push down poverty curves in Nigeria are not only disability sensitive, but with active participation of PWDs and their organisations”

Anyaele appreciated the efforts of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in implementing their framework on Access and Participation of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the Electoral Process. Noting that evidence from the last election conducted by INEC showed relative improvement in terms of inclusion and access to the electoral process.

As the last phase of activities before the 2023 general elections is about to commence, we are seriously worried about the rate of insecurity and lack of political tolerance among political parties and their candidates.

“This situation is a driver of voter apathy and low participation of vulnerable groups in the electoral process. We are calling on the INEC to improve on the successes recorded in Osun State to ensure equal voting access for persons with disabilities. People with disabilities should be encouraged to go for early collection of their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) even as we request priority considerations in line with the provisions of the National Disability Act and INEC Framework on PWDs.

“We are also calling on the security agencies to push back this ugly scenario as the 2023 general elections provide an important opportunity for each and every registered voter to decide his or her future. No one should be left behind in the electoral process by reason of insecurity” he said.

He said the observance of the Day, proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3 aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic, and cultural life.

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