By Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis
The All Progressives Congress on Saturday saluted the over 25 million Persons with Disabilities for the dignity, achievements and global recognition they had impacted on the country.
This was contained in a statement issued in Abuja by the PWDs National Leader of the party, Tolu Bankole, to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Bankole stated that beyond the international day of observance, the ruling party had not failed to appreciate the exploits of politicians and sportsmen with disabilities, including those making waves in the field of information and communications technology, commerce and academics.
The annual PWDs’ observance day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.
The 2022 edition’s theme, “Transformative solutions for inclusive development – The role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world,” has been described as a rally cry to invest in Persons With Disabilities to reduce poverty, promote economic growth and contribute to Nigeria’s economic development.
Continuing, Bankole disclosed that the APC-led administration of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has particularly played an important role in tackling the range of challenges confronting the PWDs’ community.
He said, “With about one in every eight Nigerians living with at least one form of disability, most common of these disabilities are visual impairment, hearing impairment, physical impairment, intellectual impairment, and communication impairment.
“President Buhari has assented to Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018, and other intervention programmes to alleviate the plight of PWDs in Nigeria.
“The APC, being a friend to the PWDs, has strongly and consistently advocated for their inclusion and improvement of lives, which subsequently led to the free nomination form given out to all the PWDs aspirants at all levels in the build-up to the 2022 APC primaries.
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“As the leader of the PWDs, I personally disbursed grants and empowerment to women and men in different PWDs clusters nationwide to engender financial inclusion. Bursary and scholarships were awarded to students with disabilities across the country while we also paid for GCE forms of hundreds of SSS 3 students to drive home our call for educational inclusion.
“We organised and self-sponsored the first PWDs’ national summit at NICON Hilton Abuja where far reaching resolutions have been forwarded to the appropriate authorities for prompt actions.”
The member of the APC presidential campaign council, however, stated that the Federal Government could still do more for the community.
While quoting the Global Report on Assistive Technology, Bakole said that no fewer than 2.5 billion people across the globe needed at least one assistive product.
He added that it had been projected by GRAT that the demand may shoot up to 3.5 billion by 2050.
“The requirement may range from a spectacle to highly advanced myoelectric hand or robotic exo-skeletons. However, nearly nine out of 10 persons who need assistive technology do not have access and this often have adverse impact on their education, livelihood, health and well-being.
“Government must champion innovation which will improve access of the PWDs to assistive technologies in Nigeria without further delay. We believe that availability and affordability of assistive smart technologies to the PWDs will enable them to participate equally and effectively in society with others and face no barriers,” he stated.
He also called for political appointment of their members as minister at the federal level and state commissioners to curb discrimination, stigmatisation and rejection of the PWDs in Nigeria.