Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) has expressed their commitment towards complementing the implementation of United Nations Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and Discrimination against Persons with disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018, urging government to adopt disability inclusive leadership in accordance with UNCRPD standard.
This was made by the acting National President, JONAPWD, ALHAJI ABDULLAHI USMAN ALIYU during the world press conference organized by JONAPWD with the support of The Leprosy Mission Nigeria in Abuja on Friday in commemoration of 2021 International Day for Persons with Disabilities (IDPD).
Abdullahi in his speech said that JONAPWD will continue to genuinely seek to collaborate with partners who promote the rights and wellbeing of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, while positioning to increase awareness on disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural lives in Nigeria.
“As the unifying umbrella of the disabled people’s movement in the country, we will continually serve to complement disability-sensitive guidance on measures to be taken in implementing provisions in the UNCRPD and disability law, and facilitating assessment of disability-sensitive frameworks using inclusive, accessible and sustainable spectra”.
He expressed joy that as JONAPWD join global community to raise voices and galvanize actions to celebrate and recognize the enormous contributions of persons with disabilities in the world, the ratification of UNCRPD) and the signing into law of the Disability Act of 2018 have laid very strong and progressive foundations in recognizing and giving PWDs the long-denied opportunity of equal access and treatment along with other persons without disabilities in Nigeria.
Going by the theme of IDPD 2021, “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world’’ he proposed that it is pertinent that PWDs reflect on progress and challenges when considering responsive, inclusive and participatory representation of persons with disabilities in decision making platforms at all levels in Country including new barriers faced by PWDs in the recovery phase of COVID-19 pandemic which persons with disabilities in Nigeria are predominantly the most affected population, marginalization, discrimination, vulnerability and abuse have been worsened. It lead to reduced access to routine disability responsive services, pronounced social isolation, poorly tailored social protection facilities, and the lack of emergency preparedness for disability dimensions and diversities.
He drew the attention of the authority to UNCRP standard of disability-inclusive leadership which begins with consultation with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in order to understand their needs and practical experiences, it is also human-right enabling.
“According to the UN Secretary General, “A disability-inclusive pandemic response and recovery should be guided by persons with disabilities themselves, forge partnerships, tackle injustice and discrimination, expand access to technology and strengthen institutions to create a more inclusive, accessible, and sustainable post COVID-19 world”
“In this regard, article 4.3 of the UNCRPD presents strong definitions on disability participation that would lead to into transformational change. It underscores our involvement as the key to ensuring effectiveness and success of policies and development programmes, including at the stages of design, implementation and evaluation. However, persons with disabilities in Nigeria are increasingly consulted but not in a participatory pattern” he added.
While reacting to a question on the participation of PWDs in 2023 general election, he lamented that people without disabilities have been representing PWDs in the decision making which is an anomaly but PWDs should do more in the area of political participation, he urged PWDs to join political party, participate from the ward, local government, state and to the Federal. It is one good way for PWDs to take the rightful place in the decision making bodies in Nigeria.
While reacting on the JONAPWD’s plans for encouraging Youths with Disabilities involvement in other Youths programs across the country, he informed that JONAPWD has a plan to create Youth Wing of JONAPWD in order to enhance the development of young persons with disabilities and equip them for challenges ahead for smooth taking over of disability movement from older generation. It will help to get the youths with disabilities coordinated across the country to enable them benefit from programmes of the goverment like their counterparts without disabilities.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the disability bill into law and establishing the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) and expressed satisfaction on the way President also went further to appoint a PWD as the Executive Secretary of The Commission.
He pleaded with the President to also look into the act and propose amendment in some areas of the Act that will strengthen the welfare of PWDs in Nigeria.
He urged all domestic and international stakeholders to learn from COVID pandemic experiences of people with disabilities, and pursue interventions into socio-economic pillars which could help address impairments faced by this demography in Nigeria by prioritizing support and assistive technologies which will greatly contribute to inclusive implementation across many Sustainable Development Goals.
Alhaji Abdullahi called for mainstreaming of the interests and rights of persons with disabilities in design and implementation of programmes across all sectors and areas of life which will go a long way in achieving the mantra of “Leave No One Behind”.
Mr. Pius Sunday, the head of programs, The Leprosy Mission Nigeria representing the National Director, Dr. Sunday Udoh in his speech said that The Leprosy Mission Nigeria is committed towards supporting persons with disabilities in Nigeria, believes and upholds the mantra of “Leave No One Behind”.
Speaking further, he said that the celebration of IDPD though beautiful but it has not solve the challenges PWDs are facing, there are still a lot of discriminations in our society.
He said despite the enactment of disability law in Nigeria and establishment of NCPWD which was vested with the responsibility of ensuring education, healthcare, social-economic and civil rights of PWDs, a lot more still need to be done in area of inaccessibility of public buildings, inaccessible communication format( lack of sign language interpreters) and these gaps would continue to hinder the collective development of Nigerians.
He also said that as government and international community continue to battle ever revolving COVID-19 Pandemic with the hope to chat a way forward, it is important disability inclusion is made to be at the centre in decision making, health system planning and other developmental interventions.
He informed that through the various projects supported by The Leprosy Mission Nigeria, they have been able work with PWDs in Nigeria to advocate, acquire life skills and provide economic empowerment. TLMN believes in giving PWDs the enablement to contribute to the national building.
“As part of TLMN effort to alleviate the challenges of PWDs, we have an orthopedic workshop where we produces prosthetics and other assistive technology to improve quality of life” he informed.
He said that in 2021, as strategic partner organization of the Liliane Fonds, TLMN supported 21 disability focused partners organization serving over 1700 children with disabilities in Nigeria.
We are equally interested in issues of mental health, impacts and consequences of disability on PWDs and their caregivers.
He concluded by calling on the government, NGOs, CSOs, Religious Leaders, PWDs themselves and the entire Nigerians to ensure that leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world happens.