31 million PLWDs suffer as 23 states neglect disability rights.

As Nigeria joins the rest of the world today to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), the over 31 million community of Persons Living With Disabilities (PLWDs) in the country has called on government at all levels to quit paying lip service to their plights and match words with actions by implementing the various domestic laws and international conventions.

The IDPD is a day set aside by the United Nations since 1992 to promote a better understanding of disability issues with a focus on the rights of PLWDs in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities.

The theme for the 2021 IDPD is ‘Leadership and Participation of PLWDs toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world,’ with a focus on their empowerment for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In a statement, yesterday, to mark the IDPD, Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), David O. Anyaele, observed that this year’s event is the third commemoration of the day since the passage and assent by President Muhammadu Buhari of the disability rights Act that is designed to protect the more than 31 million citizens with disabilities.

He said: “We are worried that 36 months after the passage of the Disability Rights Act, only 13 states have demonstrated measures to adopt the Act. We commend states like Lagos, Anambra, Ekiti, Ondo, Plateau, Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, Kogi, Niger, Kwara and Niger.

“We call on the state governments yet to adopt the National Disability Rights Act to do so without further delay. This is important because failure in this regard is an indirect endorsement of discrimination and other harmful practices against citizens with disabilities.

“It is important for state governments to make inclusion and participation of citizens with disabilities in governance and development programmes a priority, as it is very expensive and difficult to live with disability without government support.

“We are concerned that 34 months after the passage of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018, citizens with disabilities are still left behind due to none implementation of the Act by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). This is evidenced by the none provision of necessary measures to enhance access to buildings of these MDAs, and the inclusion of citizens with disabilities in their programmes and activities.

“We are also worried that many states across the federation are struggling to budget for the integration and rehabilitation of citizens with disabilities, even when they are budgeted, PLWDs hardly benefit from such provision. However, we commend states like Lagos, Plateau, Ondo and Anambra that have taken measures to not just pass the disability bill, but also taken steps to create offices for disability affairs in their states.

“We are worried that more than 18 months after President Buhari gave directives to MDAs to pay special attention to the peculiarities of PLWDs in the formulation and implementation of their policies and programmes, and where suitable their employment, nothing has been done in this regard,” he stated.

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