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PWDs demand legislation for inclusion in governance

By Boniface Okoro, Umuahia on 16/10/2016

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People With Disabilities (PWDs) have advocated for a law that would guarantee their inclusion in socio-political affairs at every level of government in the country.

The PWDs are uncomfortable that the nation, states and even individuals were using charity-based approach to address PWDs issues which they described as ad-hoc, instead of a legislation that would be permanent.

These views were canvassed at a stakeholders forum which was part of activities lined up for the 2016 Disabilities Awareness Week aimed at increasing awareness on the plight of PWDs as they struggle to live normal lives and contribute to the socio-political development of the country.

At the forum, tagged stakeholders forum on citizens with disability participation in democratic governance in Abia, the stakeholders condemned the continued exclusion of PWDs from active participation in the democratic governance.

They, therefore, demanded that the time was ripe to summon the necessary political will and legal instruments to give PWDs sense of belonging, provided that they have the same potentials as those without disabilities.

Executive Director of Centre of Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), a non-governmental organisation and organisers of the forum, Mr. David Anyaele, regretted that Abia and many other states of the federation were yet to put legislations in place to address the issue if disability and open the political space for PWDs, adding that state actors in Abia have been using charity-based approach to address disability issues. “It is not sustainable,” he said,

He recalled that PWDs, especially limb amputees and visually impaired persons, were largely shut out from the 2015 general elections as their interests were not taken into consideration in the adoption of card reader machines used for voter accreditation.

However, he assured that CCD was already engaging the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) “to ensure that data capturing machines are made to end discrimination.”

But the Head of Voter Education and Enlightenment of INEC, Abia State, Mr. Edwin Enabor, explained that the commission did take into consideration, issues of disabilities during the last general election.

Enabor said that INEC produced voter education materials in brail, adding that the Commission was looking into the issue of card reader as it concerned the participation of PWDs in elections since they constitute 25 percent of the population which cannot be ignored.

Many PWDs that spoke at the event complained about the attitude of those in positions of power, employers of labour, political parties and indeed the general public who largely discriminate against PWDs and regard them as people who depend on charity to survive.

They also decried the period of five days given by the Abia State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for PWDs to pick and submit nomination forms free of charge for the forthcoming local government poll.

“If you are given a gift you cannot use, it becomes inconsequential,” Anyaele said, pointing out that it was very difficult for any PWD to get all the necessary documents required to fill and submit the nomination forms within the deadline.

•Photo shows a group of people with disabilities.

Source News Express

Posted 16/10/2016 05:57:32 AM


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