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HomeNEWSEmpowering Voices: CCD Enhances Political Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Lagos

Empowering Voices: CCD Enhances Political Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Lagos

Lagos, Nigeria – On Friday, June 28th, 2024, the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) hosted a landmark one-day stakeholders’ dialogue aimed at enhancing the participation of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the political and electoral processes of Lagos State. The event, held in the bustling metropolis, was a pivotal gathering of PWDs interested in politics alongside influential members of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC). Together, they embarked on a mission to chart a course towards increasing the membership of PWDs in various registered political parties.

Setting a vibrant and welcoming tone for the event, Mrs. Florence Chima Austin, a renowned advocate for disability rights, opened the dialogue with an inspiring address. In her speech, she emphasized the critical need for PWDs to have a seat at the decision-making table. “We are not just participants; we are key stakeholders in shaping the future of our state and our nation. It is essential that our voices are heard and our contributions are valued,” she stated passionately.

The highlight of the program was a compelling presentation by Comrade Afolabi Kayode, the National Association of the Blind Chairman from Alimosho. His presentation, titled “Enhancing Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Political and Electoral Processes,” was a clarion call to action. Kayode encouraged PWDs to actively engage in politics, underscoring the importance of their involvement in all levels of governance. He also urged IPAC and other relevant stakeholders to dismantle the attitudinal, institutional, and structural barriers that hinder full participation of PWDs.

“The barriers we face are not just physical; they are deeply ingrained in societal attitudes and institutional structures. It is time for a paradigm shift, where inclusion becomes the norm, not the exception,” Kayode articulated, his words resonating deeply with the audience.

One of the most impactful segments of the programme was the facilitated registration process for PWDs. Members of IPAC seized this opportunity to pitch their party platforms, engaging in one-on-one sessions with PWDs to assist with their registration. This hands-on approach not only streamlined the registration process but also fostered a sense of belonging and immediate involvement for PWDs in the political arena.

Honourable Agbabiaka, Councillor of Apena Ward in Oshodi, shared his personal journey navigating the political landscape as a person with a disability. His testimony was both motivating and enlightening, providing practical insights and strategies for overcoming political hurdles. “My journey has not been without its challenges, but each obstacle has only strengthened my resolve to advocate for greater inclusion and representation of PWDs in politics,” he shared, his narrative serving as a beacon of hope and determination.

Throughout the dialogue, participants actively engaged in discussions, brainstorming actionable steps to ensure the integration of PWDs into the political sphere. The atmosphere was charged with a sense of purpose and commitment, as attendees shared their visions and strategies for a more inclusive political process.

Feedback from participants underscored the programme’s success, highlighting the empowerment through knowledge and the invaluable networking opportunities it provided. “This event has been transformative. It has not only equipped us with the knowledge to navigate the political landscape but also connected us with like-minded individuals and potential allies,” remarked one participant.

The programme, supported by Voice, a grant-making organization that champions the rights of marginalized groups, stands as a testament to the power of collective action and the unwavering commitment to fostering an inclusive society. The stakeholders’ dialogue is expected to be a catalyst for significant changes in the political engagement and representation of PWDs in Lagos State.

As the dialogue concluded, there was a palpable sense of optimism and resolve. The participants left with a renewed sense of purpose, ready to take the next steps in ensuring that PWDs are not just seen and heard but are also integral players in the political arena. The road ahead may be challenging, but with the momentum generated by this impactful event, there is a strong foundation upon which to build a more inclusive and equitable political future for all.

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