One of the conspicuous events for Persons Living with Disabilities in 2019 was the International Day of Persons with Disabilities being annually observed on December 3 around the world.
The theme for the 2019 edition of the day: “Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: Taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda’’, has been a fundamental reference point of view to numerous persons living with disabilities in Nigeria.
The observance of the day is to ensure the empowerment of persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that pledges to ‘leave no one behind’.
Concerned citizens, therefore, hold a view that sensitisation to the plights of the vulnerable group in that regard ought to be aggressive more than ever after the observance of the day.
They suggest organised conferences on disability and development to step up the ongoing efforts by global, national, regional and local actors to keep the promise of the 2030 development agenda for all.
In his view, Mr David Anyaele, Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, observes that establishing a national commission on persons with disabilities will bring justice to persons with disabilities.
He recalls that the need for a commission to take care of the physically challenged underscores the decision of the Federal Government to establish a national commission for Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs) to enhance their inclusiveness in the scheme of things.
According to him, the commission will drive the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities Prohibition Act 2019, foster better enforcement and strengthen the implementation of the law.
He observes further that the commission has the potential to integrate PLWDs, including the albino and other vulnerable groups into the society.
“The commission is the most integral part of the 2019 national disability law that will boost and give these vulnerable in the society a sense of belonging in the country,’’ he says.
He appeals to the Federal Government to establish the commission with no further delays, while the media should help in sensitising the public to the importance of the establishment of the commission.
He advises the media further to use appropriate expressions to depict the plight of the PLWDs in their reportage and news analyses.
Anyaele enjoins Nigerians to develop a healthy attitude towards the marginalised group by learning to accommodate and cohabit with them.
Sharing Anyaele view, some analysts call on Nigerians to help in reducing the burden and plights of people with disabilities in the country by creating a barrier-free society.
They note that the role of the public is to accommodate, support, encourage and integrate the vulnerable groups in the society by curbing isolation, discrimination and stigmatisation.
He observes that the burden of disabilities will not be felt if the society is accommodating well people with disabilities.
In his opinion, Mr Obinna Ekujureonye, the FCT Chairman, National Association of the Blind, says the importance of an accommodative society can not be over emphasized in addressing the plight of the physically challenged persons.
“The government at all levels and policy makers should strive to create an inclusive economic plan that will factor these vulnerable groups into government plans, strategies and policies’’, he explains.
Similarly, Theophilus Odaudu, Programme Officer for Nigeria for the Disability Rights Fund and Disability Rights Advocacy, says it is important for state government to make inclusive plans, strategies and policies to accommodate every citizen to boost participation in governance.
According to him, only few states in the country have legal framework that protects citizens with disabilities and other vulnerable groups from exclusion and discrimination on the grounds of differences.
“We are worried that both the federal and states government budgets for 2020 reflects very little or in some, no provision is made for the rehabilitation and integration of vulnerable groups,’’ he explains.
Odaudu observes that anti-corruption agencies have continuously made no efforts to include organisations of PLWDs in the fight against corruption, while the PLWDs suffer greatly from corrupt practices in any country.
He, however, appeals to states and non-state actors to help in curbing and halting the act of marginalising PLWDs, including the albino and others, during preparations and establishment of both short and long term plans, strategies and policies.
He calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to establish the disability commission to ensure that the purpose of the national disability act is achieved.
“Marginalisation of the vulnerable groups such as the physically disabled, the blind and deaf, the albino and others, is an issue that has long received far too little attention in the country.
“The social inclusion of vulnerable groups by enabling their participation in cultural and artistic activities cannot be over emphasised.
“No democracy can thrive without the inclusion of these groups, so there ought to be a commission to drive an all inclusive government’’, he advises.
Sharing similar sentiments, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs Sadiya Farouq, thanks Buhari for assenting to the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act after 18 years.
Irrespective of action programme to ameliorate the plight of PLWDs, Minister of Women Affairs Pauline Tallen, wants Nigerians to change attitudes towards the physically challenged.
“Our attitude towards them — PLWDs — should be the type that will help them realise their potential; my ministry is willing to support PLWDs and all agencies handling activities targeted at giving them a better life,” she says.