Persons with disabilities have called on Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Ignatius Kaigama to develop disability inclusion policy.
The call was made by a delegation of leaders of disability community led by Barr. Theophilus Odaudu during the 2023 general assembly of Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja on Thursday.
In a good message, Barr. Theophilus spoke on the theme of the year’s assembly which is Marriage, Family in contemporary society, he reminded that persons with disabilities should be seen as part of the family and called on the church to create an environment for full participation of persons with disabilities in all the activities of the church.
He acknowledged the compassion shown to persons with disabilities over time by Catholic church but proposed a change of approach because the church has been applying charity approach which have not provided opportunity for persons with disabilities to participate in equal basis with others in the church activities.
“Some of us have acquired some skills which we should deploy for the benefits of the church but unfortunately that opportunity have not been given”.
Odaudu who is the program manager, West Africa, Disability Rights Fund, called on the Archbishop and Catholic Archdiocese Of Abuja to set the pace by developing a Disability inclusion policy to make it possible for us to have sign language interpreters in all the parishes, communication materials produced in accessible format and construction of ramps and other accessibility features in the entire Catholic Church in the FCT.
He also urged the Catholic Archdiocese Of Abuja to use the church to promote the rights of persons with disabilities.
Thereafter, all delegates at the Assembly stood up to pledge and affirm their commitments towards promoting disability rights.
The Assembly is the congregation of all leaders of the church, the Parish Priests, laity council, organizations such as Catholic Men Organization (CMO), Catholic Women Organization (CWO), Catholic Youth Organization Of Nigeria (CYON) among others.
The participation of persons with disabilities in the Assembly was made possible by Sterling Inclusive Development (SIEDI) lead by Patience Agbamu Ejeh in collaboration with Justice Development and Peace Commission(JDPC) with support from Disability Rights Fund and CBM.
Other persons with disabilities in the delegation were Comrade Chris Agbo, CEO/ Publisher, The Qualitative Magazine, Aver Akighir, Executive Director, Hope Alive Possibilities Initiative (HAPI), Barr. Calister Ugwunweke, Women Leader and Vice President, Africa Association Of The Blind, Barr. Catherine Edeh, Executive Director, Voice Of Disability Initiative (VDI) and Barr. Blessing Ujunwa.