The Coalition of the Advocacy for Disability Act (ADAC) on Monday reiterated its commitment to ensuring that persons with disabilities (PWDs) live a fulfilled life through an accessible system and structure which is rooted in inclusive legislation.
Grace Jerry, ADAC Cluster Anchor and Executive Director of, the Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) made the statement at the Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum Meeting on the Taraba State Disability Bill held in Jalingo.
She said the meeting was aimed to review the Taraba State Disability Bill.
Jerry urged the incoming Governor, Lt. Col. Kefas Agbu (Rtd) to not only sign the Bill into law but also set up a Disability Commission to help drive implementation of the Bill when it becomes a law in the state.
“We commend Governor Darius Ishaku for his effort in pushing the Bill to the State House of Assembly. He has written his name in Gold despite losing the Senatorial bid,” Jerry appreciated.
She described the Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum Meeting on the Taraba State Disability Bill as important for ADAC, Communities of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), as well as Taraba state at large.
She revealed that according to the United Nations statistics which estimate 15% of the world’s population to be PWDs, there are over 30 million persons in Nigeria who have one form of disability or the other.
“With these estimates, Taraba State has 541,470 persons who have one form of disability or the other considering the population of over 3,609,800,” she added.
Grace Jerry also pointed out that “this population has diverse skills, potentials, economic contributions that inform development, and huge demography to determine the outcome of an election.
“No doubt, the community of Persons with Disabilities has suffered discrimination, neglects, barriers, poverty, and exclusion due to the inadequacies and in some instance absence of systems and structure,” she expressed dismay.
She was optimistic that having legislation that protects the rights and drives accountability from State and Non-state actors will create accessible systems and structures and will in return lead to the development and growth of the state.
The Executive Director encouraged stakeholders at the meeting to make an informed observation, contribution, and impute, to enable the community of Persons with Disability in Taraba State to have a document that provides for their rights.
“I am optimistic that with the caliber of people seated at this table, we will come up with practical and achievable steps that will fill the existing disability gaps,” Jerry said.
Grace Jerry, however, thanked their partners Palladium for their technical assistance; and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), for their financial assistance.
In a goodwill message, the Permanent Secretary of Taraba State Ministry of Social Development Dr. Muhammad Isa said the ministry is working hard to ensure that the Disability Act succeeds especially in the forthcoming 10th Assembly.
He commended the organizers of the meeting and other stakeholders and assured them that the government is doing everything possible to ensure it unites the disability groups in the state.
Isa described the disunity amongst the disability groups as worrisome, adding that the state is left behind as a result of that, and expressed optimism that other stakeholders will also join the movement of uniting them for the benefit of all.
Also speaking, the Galadiman Muri, Alhaji Tukur Abba Tukur expressed delight over the proposal for Bill, stressing the need for the society to recognize the persons with disability in all ramifications.
“We must be concerned about the persons with disability. We must also recognize that we have people with disability within our midst, starting from the way we build our offices, the way we construct our schools and markets,” the Galadima emphasized.
Tukur cautioned people with the ability not to forget about the accident and other natural incidents that could cause someone to become disabled, therefore, everyone should do all he can to ensure that the Bill sees the light of the day in Taraba State.
On his part, the Taraba State Chairman of Civil Society Organizations, Dr. Joseph Gimba while introducing the participants told the Executive Director and other dignitaries that no stakeholder was left behind and expressed hope that they will step down the ideas shared during the two-day meeting to different clusters.