Members of the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network have lauded the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, and former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, for what they described as his responsible and inclusive leadership style, noting that it gives hope to the common man, especially the physically challenged.
The members spoke in Abuja, during their “Training for Religious Leaders on Protecting and Promoting Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights for Women with Disabilities,” said Obi remained outstanding in his inclusive style of governance and for embarking on different empowerment programmes for the physically challenged, when he was the Anambra State governor.
One of the members, Dr Catherine Edeh, recalled how in 2014, Obi pushed for disability reforms and inclusion, especially for the young ones in Anambra State. She said she attended a programme for the physically challenged, organised by Obi when he was the governor, and was given a chance to address the gathering. She used the opportunity to appeal to the governor to provide jobs for the many educated and unemployed physically- challenged persons resident in the state.
Edeh who has hearing difficulty said: “I didn’t have a sign language interpreter when I attended that programme. But I am happy that you readily gave me audience to voice my concerns, even when those around didn’t listen to me. Two months after the programme, many of the physically-challenged persons got jobs. Some enjoyed fat salaries when compared to other states. They were all happy and jubilant. That was the genesis of disability inclusion in Anambra State. That is the kind of leadership we so desire in our country.”
On her part, a disability advocate and member of the Network, Ndifreke Andrew-Essien, urged Obi to remain committed to protecting the rights of the physically challenged, and advancing their opportunities in life, even at the national level. She stated that the physically challenged would fulfil their potentials in life if a thriving environment is created for them.
In his remarks, Obi assured that he would continue to uphold the inclusion of people with various needs in his government. He stated that he would pay more attention to the physically challenged than to the able-bodied people.