Today is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a day set aside by the United Nations to promote a better understanding of disability issues with a focus on the rights of persons with disabilities and gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities. The theme for this year’s International Day is “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want”. This theme notes the recent adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the role of these goals in building a more inclusive and equitable world for persons with disabilities.
Since 1992, the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) has been celebrated annually on 3 December around the world. This year’s objectives include assessing the current status of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and SDGs and laying the foundation for a future of greater inclusion for persons with disabilities. The observance of the 2016 IDPD coincides with the 10-year anniversary of the adoption of the CRPD – one of the most quickly and widely ratified international treaties put forth by the United Nations to date.
We wish to appreciate the media and specifically your organization for their continued support to the efforts of the disability community towards increasing the voice of the voiceless and the most vulnerable of the vulnerable group (Nigerians with disabilities) in our society through inclusive reportage.
We appreciate President Mohammed Buhari’s government for demonstrating political will through the appointment of two aids (Senior Special Assistant and Special Assistant on Disability Matters) the first since the foundation of this country.
We recognize the commitment of the members of the 8th session of the National Assembly under the leadership of Sen. Bukola Saraki through the passage of the Nigeria disability bill for the 4th time on June 9 and July 13 2016 by the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively.
We are concerned that the to leadership of the National Assembly is yet to constitute the Joint Conference Committee on the disability bill which is the final phase of the legislative process on bill before its transmission to the President for assent.
We are worried that few states in Nigeria (Ondo, Lagos, Ekiti, Plateau and Bauchi States) have passed disability law, a legal framework that protects citizens with disabilities from exclusion and discrimination on the grounds of disabilities.
We are also worried that Federal and State governments’ programmes and development activities are designed at the exclusion of persons with disabilities which is a big threat to attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals in the year 2030.
Acknowledging that Nigeria has signed the United Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities including it optional protocols, we state that SDGs will not be achieved if state and none state actors continue to discriminate, isolate and marginalize over 25 million Nigerians with disabilities in planning and implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria.
We call on President Mohammadu Buhari to take appropriate measure to ensure that the 2017 budget is designed at the inclusion of over 25 million persons with disabilities in Nigeria; without that Nigeria will not make progress in their development efforts.
We appeal to the leadership of the National Assembly ably led by Sen. Bukola Saraki to inaugurate without delay the Joint Conference Committee on the Disability bill to enhance the finalization of the legislative process on bill before its transmission to the President for assent.
We also call on the State governments to make inclusion and participation of citizens with disabilities in governance and development programmes of the State a priority as it is very expensive and difficult to live with disability without government support.
We urge organisations of, and for persons with disabilities not to relent in their efforts of promoting and creating awareness on the disability issues at Local, State and Federal level to enhance public understanding, as nothing about us with us.
The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) is a not-for-profit making organization of, and for persons with disabilities that works to promote independent living, human rights and social inclusion of persons with disabilities in development efforts. It also works to educate, support and empower persons with disabilities and their families to maximize their potentials. It was established in 2002 in Lagos and incorporated with the Corporate Affairs Commission Abuja as a charitable organization. The organisation was founded as a result of the founder’s harrowing experiences in the hands of the rebel warlords in the war-torn Sierra Leone who tearfully amputated his two hands, thereby forcefully consigning him into physical disability.
CCDs’ objectives include to initiate and implement programmes, policies and activities geared toward the promotion and enhancement of the welfare of persons with disabilities; To empower or assist in empowering persons with disabilities and regularly access the impact of public policy on human rights and report on same through publications seminars, workshops and lectures; To educate, sensitise, counsel and mobilize persons with disabilities in various areas critical to their survival and progress and support and advocate for respect for the rule of law and due process.
CCD is recognized by the National Planning Commission, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and Lagos State Ministry of Youth, Sport and Social Development as a credible NGO working on disability matters. We have over the past eight years sought a redefinition of society’s perception of the plight of persons with disabilities. CCDs’ partners include: Department for International Development (DFID), Justice for All Programme- DFID, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Ford Foundation, Population Council, National Democratic Institute (NDI), US Consulate, The Netherland Embassy, Chevron, Airtel among others.
David O. Anyaele