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Concerned Nigerians should demand from parties’ candidates their agenda for PWD, says CCD

Ahead of the 2023 General Elections, the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), has charged People With Disabilities (PWDs) and their families as well as concerned Nigerians to demand from political parties’ candidates to various offices in the land their agenda for persons with disabilities, saying this became imperative as issues of critical importance to the disability community were missing in the manifestos of front line political parties.

Chairman of CCD, David O. Anyaele, gave this charge on Friday in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos in commemoration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2022, even as he further charged PWDs and their organisations to ensure they document disability-related promises made by parties’ candidates in order to hold them to account for the elections.

The theme of this year’s event is “Transformative Solutions for Inclusive Development: The Role of Innovation in Fueling an Accessible and Equitable World,” scheduled to present an opportunity to reflect and ask critical questions on the extent that the Federal Government and its subnational are responsive to the full integration of persons with disabilities into the society and ensuring for their education, health care and the protection of their social, economic, and civil rights.”

Anyaele, while making the call, noted that the absence of programmes for people with disabilities in the manifestos of political parties and candidates for various offices was indicative that the in-coming government might struggle to prioritize inclusion and participation of the affected “persons in government programmes and activities as their operational documents do not indicate how citizens with disabilities would be part of the government.”

“Interestingly, we are marking this year’s world disability day less than 83 days for Nigerians to go to the Polls for the 2023 General Elections to select their leaders from the States to Federal Houses of Assemblies, and from State Governors to the President.

“The elections campaign are ongoing across the Federation, unsurprisingly, issues of critical importance to the disability community are missing in the manifestos of front-line political parties.

“This is indicative that the in-coming government may struggle to prioritize inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in government programs and activities as their operational documents do not indicate how citizens with disabilities would be part of the government.

“People with disabilities and their families as well as concerned citizens should demand from political parties’ candidates’ agenda for persons with disabilities. PWDs and their organisations must document disability-related promises made by candidates in order to hold them to account for the general elections,” he said.

This was just as CCD boss, Anyaele, expressed serious concern that more than 133 million Nigerians had been plunged into different dimensions of poverty, which he equally noted was a major cause of disability across the world.

He said such development was a dangerous signal as, according to him, government policies and programmes in the past hardly reached the disability community, adding that “the possibility of reaching them in the future is slim as it appears in the non-inclusion of PWDs in the political party manifestos.”

He, therefore, called on the Federal and State governments to ensure that efforts to push down poverty curves in Nigeria were not only disability sensitive, but with the active participation of PWDs and their organisations.

“Recognizing that poverty is the major cause of disability across the world, even as the disability itself pushes individuals to poverty as well; we are worried that while we are clamouring for the reduction of incidence of disability in our 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 State governments to ensure that efforts to push down poverty curves in Nigeria are not only disability sensitive, but with the active participation of PWDs and their organisations,” Anyaele stated.

Meanwhile, the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) said it is impressed with state governments that have adopted the Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018 or passed disability laws in their respective jurisdictions, calling on states that had not done so yet to take appropriate measures to protect their citizens with disabilities without further delay through the adoption of the Disability Act.

According to the body, states that have adopted the 2018 Prohibition Act include Lagos, Oyo, Ekiti, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto, Zamfara, Abia, Cross River, Edo, among others, while Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Ogun, Osun, Katsina, Kebbi, Gombe, Rivers, Taraba, and Yobe were yet to do so.

Besides, the Centre commended the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) efforts in implementing their framework on Access and Participation of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the Electoral Process, saying evidence from the last election conducted by the electoral commission shows that there was a relative improvement in terms of inclusion and access to the electoral process.

CCD, while expressing serious worry about the rate of insecurity and lack of political tolerance among political parties and their candidates, saying the situation is a driver of voter apathy, and low participation of vulnerable groups in the electoral process, however, called 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,” the Centre said.

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