Today is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a day set aside by the United Nations to promote a better understanding of disability issues with a focus on the rights of persons with disabilities and gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities. The theme for this 2019 IDPD is ‘Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda’. The theme focuses on the empowerment of persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which pledges to ‘leave no one behind’ and recognizes disability as a cross-cutting issue, to be considered in the implementation of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Since 1992, the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) has been celebrated annually for persons with disabilities on 3rd December around the world. This year’s event is important to us at CCD as it’s the first time we are celebrating this day since the passage and assent by the President of the National Disability Act.
This day is also important to us as an organisation as it coincides with our 2019 Disability Awareness Week (DAW) which focuses on using the National Disability Act to the fight against corruption. CCD is holding this year’s Disability Awareness Week in six States namely: Lagos, Abia, Enugu, Kano, Kaduna, and Akwa-Ibom States.
We wish to appreciate the media and specifically your organization for their continued support to the efforts of the disability community towards increasing the voice of the voiceless and the most vulnerable of the vulnerable group (Nigerians with disabilities) in our society through inclusive reportage.
We appreciate President Mohammed Buhari’s government for demonstrating political will through the assent on the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018.
We recognize the commitment of the members of the 9th session of the National Assembly to support the full implementation of the Disability Act through an oversight on Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of the Federal Government on implementation of the Disability Act.
We are concerned that eleven months after the passage of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018, President Mohammadu Buhari is yet to establish the National Commission on Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD).
We are concerned that only a few states in Nigeria (Kano, Jigawa, Anambra, Kogi, Ondo, Lagos, Ekiti, Plateau, Kwara and Bauchi States) have passed disability law, a legal framework that protects citizens with disabilities from exclusion and discrimination on the grounds of disabilities.
We are also worried that Federal and State governments’ budget for the year 2020 made little or no provision for the rehabilitation and integration of persons with disabilities as many states have denied persons with visual impairment access to rehabilitation as these states have failed to send students with visual impairment to the Nigeria Farm Craft Centre for the Blind for training and rehabilitation.
We are concerned that Anti-Corruption Agencies in Nigeria do not include organisations of persons with disabilities in the fight against corruption even though persons with disabilities bear the scare of the negative impact of corruption.
Acknowledging that Nigeria has signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) including its optional protocols, we state that SDGs will not be achieved if state and none state actors continue to discriminate, isolate and marginalize over 25 million Nigerians with disabilities in planning and implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria.
We call on President Mohammadu Buhari to establish without further delay the National Commission on Persons with Disabilities to ensure that the purpose of the Act is achieved. We never envisaged that 11 months after the passage of the Act, Federal Government would delay in the implementation of the provisions of the Act.
We appeal to the leadership of the National Assembly ably led by Sen. Ahmed Lawal to take adequate measure to ensure that line Ministries, Departments and Agencies provide in their budgets position for the implementation of the National Disability Act.
We also call on the State governments yet to adopt the National Disability Act to do so without further delay as a failure in this regard is an indirect endorsement of discrimination and other harmful practices against their citizens with disabilities. It is important for the State government to make inclusion and participation of citizens with disabilities in governance and development programmes a priority as it is very expensive and difficult to live with disability without government support.
We urge anti-corruption agencies to take appropriate measure to involve and construct their anti-corruption fights using disability eye lens as persons with disabilities carries the greatest burden of corruption in our society.
We urge organisations of, and for persons with disabilities not to relent in their efforts of promoting and creating awareness on the disability issues at Local, State and Federal levels to enhance public understanding, as nothing about us with us.
The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) is a not-for-profit making organization of, and for persons with disabilities that works to promote independent living, human rights and social inclusion of persons with disabilities in development efforts. It also works to educate, support and empower persons with disabilities and their families to maximize their potentials. It was established in 2002 in Lagos and incorporated with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) Abuja as a charitable organization. CCD successfully led the CSOs campaign for the passage of the National Disability Act.
CCD’s objectives include to initiate and implement programmes, policies, and activities geared toward the promotion and enhancement of the welfare of persons with disabilities; to empower or assist in empowering persons with disabilities and regularly access the impact of public policy on human rights and report on same through publications seminars, workshops and lectures; to educate, sensitise, counsel and mobilize persons with disabilities in various areas critical to their survival and progress and support and advocate for respect for the rule of law and due process.
CCD is recognized by the National Planning Commission, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and Lagos State Ministry of Youth, Sport and Social Development as a credible NGO working on disability matters. We have over the past eight years sought a redefinition of society’s perception of the plight of persons with disabilities. CCD’s partners include: Department for International Development (DFID), Justice for All Programme- DFID, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Ford Foundation, Population Council, National Democratic Institute (NDI), US Consulate, The Netherland Embassy, Chevron, Airtel among others.
David O. Anyaele
Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD)