Domesticate Disability Act in Benue – JONAPWD

By Faith Igbudu

People With Disability (PWD) in Benue State have appealed to the state government to domesticate the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act enacted by the Federal Government in the state to ease life for them.

The Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act outlaws discrimination on the basis of one’s physical, mental or sensory impairment. It was signed into law in January, 2019 to oversee the inclusivity of persons with disabilities in society and uplift their well-being.

Chairman, Joint National Association of Persons With Disabilities (JONAPWD) Benue state chapter, Bartholomew Anshe, who spoke to the press at the sidelines of a two-day workshop at the instance of Foundation for Justice Development and Peace (FJDP) Makurdi, in conjunction with Irish Aid said implementation of the act in the state will ease life for the disabled and help them to participate actively in every nation building process such as elections.

“There are so many plights currently faced by people with disabilities, but the good thing is they are all being captured in the Disability Act of 2018. Prominent among them is that the law states that 5 percent of every public recruitment in Nigeria goes to the disabled. Going by this law, PWD is supposed to get 75 slots at the ongoing teacher’s recruitment in Benue state. This when done, will alleviate our suffering,” he said.

While commending FJDP for taking the lead in their welfare, they urged relevant stakeholders in the society to stop the discrimination against them saying they are part of the society too.

Similarly, Barr Sunday Sabea of state Ministry of Justice said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) already has laid down guidelines when it comes to PWD in the electoral process.

He, however, appealed that the guideline be followed to the latter. He also said “the ad-hoc staff should be properly sensitized on how to relate with PWD during elections.’

In a a detailed research presentation of facts and findings, Programs Manager of the project: Strengthening Local Advocacy for Disability Inclusiveness in Electoral Processes,” Valentine Kwaghchimin, said the project which began in June aims at improving knowledge about PWDs and subsequently influencing a change in societal attitude towards PWD.

“Deliberate efforts should be made to remove social cultural barriers that reinforce negative towards participation of PWD in electoral processes. Full implementation of the electoral guidelines to increase participation of PWD in the electoral processes,” the program manager noted.

Earlier, Dooter Tarhemba, who stood in for the Coordinator of the organization, Revd Fr Remigius Ihyula, encouraged participants to put forth all ideas as it will form building blocks for inclusion of PWD in the Nigeria electoral process giving such persons a voice.

Meanwhile, stakeholders at the workshop with the theme: “Strengthening Local Advocacy for Disability Inclusiveness in Electoral Processes,” noted that with over 10 million votes, People With Disabilities (PWD) have been considered as a formidable voice in the electoral process of Nigeria which cannot be ignored.

In their separate interactions, participants at the workshop blamed the lack of care for the disabled on a weak legal framework, lack of inclusion in decision making, poor attitude in the society, as well as poor self esteem on the part of PWD as reasons why persons in that group are completely left out in the scheme of things.

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