Have we thought of the impact of these recent crises on us Nigerians, apart from the deaths, a good number of people are left with disability? The insurgency, banditry, farmers/herders’ crises, religious/ethnic crises have left a lot of survivals of these attacks disabled. Whenever these attacks happen, some deaths would be recorded but there is little or no record of those who sustained serious injuries that will put them in no other option but permanent disability. Consider the number of times these crises have happened recently, your guess will be a good as mine, the number of people living with disability today as a result of the crises. The number of people with disabilities is fast increasing, thank God we have an act that prohibit discrimination and harmful practices against them. I now call on the Mr. president to commence the process of implementing the law. It is over 100days, he assented to it, there has been silences since then. Please let’s Consider the importance of the law, the impact it will have in the lives of our soldiers who have become disabled in the line of their duty. They should be assured of a better future likewise other people. This is the right time for implementation. Nigerians with disabilities has spent many years of untold sufferings, without further delay lets begin to ease their sufferings by setting up a commission that will shoulder the responsibility of implementing the law.
This our perceived prompt action of implementation of law from government will go long way to avert this imminent engulfed of our street with beggars with disabilities because as long as these men and women remain unengaged because of their disability, the next step is to beg for alms and their destinations are the big cities.
Implementation of the act will ensure provision of the disability friendly facilities, good welfare packages, access to health care, education, transportation, employment etc. It will make life a lot easier for Nigerians living with disabilities. It will be good to note that apart from the huge number of people becoming disabled as a result of road crashes and these crises, we are faced with inevitable one that will surely come if we wish to live long, how ready are we? We should be thinking about those barriers we will face when it happens, we should be making effort to see that our environment is made more accessible to ease our sufferings when it finally comes. Let’s plan for our tomorrow today, more inclusive and accessible society is not meant only for people living with disability today. It is meant for everybody, lets all support this advocacy of implementation of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act.
Going forward, I will appeal to the government to do more to curb this insecurity because it is creating more problems for us, apart from those who died, we have more problems in our hands, increment of Nigerians with disabilities posed a great challenge, managing a person living with disability who have been active most of his/her life is always difficult. Most times, they don’t overcome the trauma and some of them find it hard to become productive in their new found condition. Considering these challenges, they are faced with when they find themselves in these situations, I am advocating for more proactive security architecture, empowerment and cohesion programmes that will nip in the board these crises.
As we have in our hands this situation of more people is joining disability community because of these crises and it is not abating, if it persists, those joining disability community will be on a rise. For this reason, I am appealing to the policy makers to remember people with disabilities in all the policies and again formulate deliberate policies that will encourage the continued productivity inspite of the disability.
The so much talked about infrastructural development without special consideration of Nigerians with disabilities is worrisome. All our infrastructures should have disability content. Nigerian government should please as a matter of urgency overhaul the existing infrastructures in conformity with the inclusion of the People with disabilities and ensure that ongoing and the incoming ones should have full compliance of disability friendly facilities. Our country Nigeria should show more compassion to the weak, that’s what will make her truly the giant of Africa.
Written by Agbo Chris, a Polio Survivor and the Executive Director, The Qualitative magazine (a disability advocacy magazine).