Today is “International Day for People Living With Disabilities,” the 26th observance to be marked across the world under the auspices of the United Nations since the proclamation of the day in 1992. The day is to remind the world about the plight of this group of under-privileged and vulnerable citizens in our countries and societies.
In a statement marking the day, the New Dawn Disability Rights Initiative (NDDRI) observes that real action in focusing on the plight of people living with disabilities has been low generally across the world, marked by attendant uneven progress in their care and welfare among the different countries of the world.
The statement signed by the Chair of the Board of the Trustees of the non-governmental organization and its project director, Messrs Elijah Akinyemi and Gbenga Gbesan respectively observes that it’s even more pathetic that Nigeria has no nationally articulated, coherent and coordinated policy aimed at providing for the care and welfare of people living with disabilities despite the sizeable population of the people, numbering about 24 million in the country.
The organization notes further that it is ironical that this year’s celebration, “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality,” doesn’t seem to have shaped the vision of virtually every aspiring political leader of the country come 2019 as none has so far articulated a programme of action to improve the integration of the Nigerian disabled into the mainstream of the society.
In this perspective, the NDDRI calls for an affirmative action geared at reserving ten percent of all elective and appointive positions for people with disabilities at all levels of governance – federal, state and local – in the country. It is the only way to ensure attainment of the inclusion of people with disabilities in the political, social and economic life of the Nigerian society as envisaged by this year’s theme and the Social Development Goal (SDG).
The organization also calls on both the Federal and State Governments to enact the law protecting the rights of people living with disabilities and establish a commission to see to the implementation of the law at state and federal level.
In the meanwhile the NDDRI calls on the Ogun State Governor Senator Ibikunle Amosun, to sign into the law the Disability Bill passed by the Ogun State House of Assembly on November 16, 2017, noting that it will be one of the best legacies with which the Governor can crown his eight-year tenure.
The Board, its members and partners both local and international assure that they will not relent in advancing the rights, care and welfare of people living with disabilities.