December 3 is a date set aside annually for the observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities as proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of persons with disabilities.
It also seeks to increase awareness of benefits to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic, and cultural life. It further seeks to promote the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities and to take action for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society and development.
This is the day we make bold regarding the rights, respect, and dignity of persons with disabilities and capabilities, achievements as well as contributions of persons with disabilities to society.
This year, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is being commemorated throughout this week of 30 November – 4 December in conjunction with the 13th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
We join persons with disabilities across the world to celebrate disability day with the theme: “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”.
We commend PWDs for their resilience and uncommon push for a better Nigeria as they excel in all areas of human endeavours amidst neglect and discrimination by State and private institutions.
While we commend the Federal and some State Governments for the passage of disability laws and appointment of persons with disabilities as aids to the governors. We applaud the Federal Government for the establishment of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities and nomination of members of the Board of the Commission.
We are worried that:
- The increase in security in Nigeria as manifested recently in the killing of more than 46 farmers in Borno State is generating more persons with disabilities in the country. It is pertinent to note that beyond the casualties are those that survived with a form of disability.
- Hunger and poverty are increasing day by day in Nigeria. Poverty is a major driver of disability in the country as Nigeria is now known as the nation with the highest concentration of poor people in the world.
- Access to healthcare, education, and public infrastructures among PWDs are still limited as more than 99% of public buildings in Nigeria are not accessible to citizens with disabilities.
- Line Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) responsible for the implementation of relevant sections of the National Disability Act are not responding to the provisions of the Act. Of concern is the lack of commitment by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture that is tasked with the responsibility of promoting the rights, respect, and dignity of persons with disabilities and capabilities, achievements as well as contributions of persons with disabilities to society.
We call for improved security; the primary responsibility of any government is to ensure the safety of the lives and property of its citizens. This would go along way towards reducing the incidence of disability in Nigeria.
Federal and States Governments’ commitments to access to rehabilitation and reintegration services for persons with disabilities to ensure the reduction of PWDs beggars in our communities.
Federal and States Governments’ commitments to access to healthcare/medical services, inclusive education and poverty alleviation programmes, and access to public infrastructures among persons with disabilities.
Some State governments are yet to adopt the National Disability Act like Abia, Enugu, Rivers, Imo, Oyo, Benue, Delta, Borno, Kaduna, Ogun, Bayelsa, Cross River, and Edo States; to take speedy measures to pass laws for the protection of rights of persons with disabilities in their States.
CCD is committed to supporting governments at all levels, organisations of persons with disabilities, and international agencies to ensure that no one is left behind in governance and development by reason of his or her disabilities. Together we shall create a Nigeria that is free from the exclusion of persons with disabilities in development.
David O. Anyaele
Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD)