In a powerful address during a National Strategic Discourse held in the heart of Abuja, Professor Abubakar Sulaiman, the Director-General of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), sounded a clarion call for the immediate integration of Persons With Disabilities (PWD) into the fabric of Nigerian governance.
The discourse, a pivotal event organized by NILDS and attended by diverse stakeholders, served as a platform to shed light on the distinctive challenges faced by PWDs, particularly in the wake of pressing issues such as climate change and insecurity.
Prof. Sulaiman, a former Minister of Planning, passionately lamented the conspicuous absence of PWD representation among Nigerian lawmakers, asserting, “Not one of our senators or representatives is a Person With Disability.”
The urgency of inclusivity was underscored as Prof. Sulaiman urged participants to recognize the nuanced impacts of climate change and insecurity on PWD, often overlooked in decision-making processes. His rallying cry extended to proposing new legislation to the National Assembly, addressing the specific concerns of this marginalized community.
A resounding echo of support for PWD inclusion reverberated throughout the discourse. Mr. Adebowale Olorunmola, Country Representative of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, called for a substantial amendment to the Disability Act to better encapsulate the needs and aspirations of PWD.
Mrs. Lois Auta, founder of the Cedar Seed Foundation, drew inspiration from countries like Uganda and Spain, passionately advocating for the integration of PWD into the parliament and emphasizing the pivotal role of representation in safeguarding their rights.
Ms. Adetoun Agboola, Special Adviser to the Governor of Ekiti state on Disability Affairs, emphasized the need for an inclusive foundation, starting from primary schools and focusing on empowering children with disabilities. Her vision is clear – by nurturing and supporting these children today, we pave the way for robust representation and inclusivity in the future.
As the push for a more inclusive Nigeria gains momentum, the National Strategic Discourse stands as a testament to the collective call for PWD representation in governance. This event underscores the essence of true democracy, emphasizing that every individual, regardless of ability, deserves a seat at the decision-making table.
In the poignant words of Prof. Sulaiman, “We must relentlessly strive for a Nigeria where the voices of Persons With Disability are not merely heard but amplified, where their unique perspectives are not just acknowledged but valued and integrated into the very core of our decision-making processes.”
In this pivotal moment, the discourse signifies not just a call to action but a demand for a transformative shift towards a society where inclusivity is not just a goal but a lived reality.