By Leonard Okachie
Umuahia, Dec. 4, 2023(NAN)
Gov. Alex Otti of Abia on Monday charged People with Disabilities (PWD) to take action by resisting all forms of discrimination by reason of their disability.
Otti, who was represented by Mr David Anyaele, Special Assistant to the Governor on Persons With Disabilities (PWD) gave the charge in Umuahia during a roundabout dialogue with PWDs in Abia.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the dialogue was organised by the Centre for Citizens With Disabilities (CCD), to celebrate this year’s International Day of Persons With Disabilities.
NAN also reports that the event which is celebrated every Dec. 3, has this year’s theme as : “United in Action to Rescue and Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for, with, and by PWDs.”
The governor called on all PWDs in the state to take advantage of government programmes and activities to better their lives.
He said that his administration is committed to the removal of barriers that hindered PWDs from maxmising their potentials.
According to him, the government is supporting, and will continue to support awareness creation on different types of disability to reduce incidence of discrimination and other harmful practices.
He said: “As a government, we recognise that the disability community is challenged by a plethora of barriers.
“These barriers were made worse due to unimaginable neglect of the disability community by the previous governments since 1999.
“Abia belongs to all of us and no one would be left behind in its development because of disability.”
Earlier in their panel discussion, the PWDs called on the state government to take action in unity to tackle the challenges facing them towards the achievement of SDGs.
In a goodwill message, Mr Wisdom Okechukwu, Abia Chairman, Joint National Association of Persons With Disabilities, called for inclusiveness of PWDs in government activities in the state.
Okechukwu, who acknowledged the efforts of Gov. Otti on disability issues, said that the state was still lacking in action in addressing some of the challenges of PWDs.
Also, Mr Alozie Iroabuchi, Abia Chairman, Persons With Physical Disabilities, called for attitudinal change of public and private sectors on the issues concerning PWDs.
He decried stigmatisation, inaccessibility of buildings, lack of basic amenities and empowerment among others as challenges confronting the PWDs.
In his contribution, Mr Okechukwu Kanu, who is a member of Abia State Advisory Committee on Disability Matters, charged PWDs to work harder in ensuring the full implementation of the state disability law.
“It is for us to bring to people’s knowledge that we have such legislation in the state,” he said.
Similarly, the female members of PWDs in their panel discussion said that they were facing a lot of discrimination and barriers, including sexual abuse, unemployment, lack of education and others.
They, therefore, appealed to the government for financial empowerment as well as skills acquisition to make them self-reliant.
Earlier in her remark, the Interim Head, CCD, Florence Austin, said that the day was observed to promote an understanding of disability issues as well as mobilise support for the dignity and well-being of PWDs.
Austin, who was represented by CCD Programme Officer, Abia, Rachel Agomoh, urged all to work hand-in-hand to eliminate discrimination as well as empower individuals with disabilities to fully participate in all aspects of life. (NAN)