The Joint National Association of People with Disabilities (JONAPWD) says it is working with the Kaduna State Government to engage Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in all spheres of life in the state.
Chairman of the association in the state, Mr Suleiman Abdulazeez, stated this in Kaduna on Saturday, while reacting to the 2022 International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the United Nations General Assembly has set aside Dec. 3 of every year to promote and understand disability issues.
The day is also designated to mobilize support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of persons with disabilities.
The 2022 commemoration has as its theme, “Transformative Solutions for Inclusive Development: The Role of Innovation in Fuelling an Accessible and Equitable World.”
Abdulazeez told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the Gov. Nasir El-Rufai-led government has made persons with disabilities an integral part of the society.
He explained that through policies and legal frameworks, the state government and JONAPWD are working to entrench inclusion of PWDs in the scheme of things.
He identified some of the legal framework as the Kaduna State Disability Law, Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Law and other policies and programmes.
He, however, said that it is not yet uhuru in terms of achieving the inclusion of PWDs in all spheres of life, stressing that beyond enacting relevant laws, there is the problem of implementation.
The chairman pointed out that most of the political parties are yet to ensure inclusion of PWDs in their party structures from the ward to the state level to give them a sense of belonging.
“Despite the enactment of relevant laws, the inclusion of PWDs in all spheres of life has remained a challenge in the state due to the slow pace in the implementation of the laws.
“However, plans are underway to ensure implementation of the laws to enforce the inclusion of PWDs in governance and the decision-making space, including access to basic services and public facilities.
“As the country prepares for transition in 2023, JONAPW called on all political parties to designate a PWD as a Desk Officer in all their party offices from the states to the national level,” he said.
According to him, inclusion is critical to attaining a peaceful world. He commended the All Progressive Congress for including PWDs in its campaign council in the state and urged other political parties to demonstrate their commitment for an inclusive world.
On sustainability of the recorded milestones, Abdulazeez said that the association would embark on massive sensitisation of its members to vote for the candidate that would protect the interest of PWDs during the 2023 General Election.
“We will encourage our members to actively participate in political party politics in their various communities, keep their voters’ cards safe, and join a political party of their choice.
“This will give us a voice in the political space and be part of the decision-making process of any political party that wins the election,” he said.
The secretary of the association, Mr Garba Abdullahi, urged the political party candidates in the state to prioritise issues of PWDs if elected to ensure that no one is left behind.
He noted that the current administration in the state has done very well in terms of involving PWDs in the discussion of critical development issues but added that much still needs to be done.
Mr Aliyu Yakassai, Executive Secretary, Kaduna State Disability Affairs Board, said that the board was working with relevant stakeholders to ensure that all PWDs are included in all activities in communities.
While noting the progress that were recorded over time, Yakassai said much still needs to be done, particularly in the inclusion with little or no representation of PWDS in workplaces.
He said that the percentage of unemployment is higher among the PWDs, adding also that the society frowns at street begging while doing little to eliminate the problem by extending a hand of love and care.
“PWDs are not contributing much to the development of the society, because the society did not give them the opportunity to do so.
“But the board is working to address all these problems through existing laws that frown and prohibit discrimination and exclusion of PWDs.
“With the support of Sight Savers and other stakeholders, we have developed an implementation plan and action plans for the Disability Law, focusing on all sectors and their responsibilities,” he said.
The executive secretary expressed optimism that the Disability Trust Fund as provided for in The Disability Law would be launched before the tenure of the current administration.
He said Gov. El-Rufai has released N90 million and made a personnel donation of N10 million, adding that all the framework for implementation has been developed. (NAN)