The FAECARE Foundation has called on stakeholders, in the public, private and social sector, and growth seeking individuals to prioritize attentions to the protection and advancement of the rights of Persons with disabilities in Rivers State.
It also urged all the statutory provisions of all the laws and the rights of persons with disabilities as detailed in the CRPD (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities), the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities Prohibition Act, (2018) and the Rivers State Persons with Disabilities Welfare (Enhancement) Law of 2012 be implemented as a starting point.
The calls were made in a press conference to draw attentions to the inequalities, including inequalities toward women and girls with disabilities in Rivers State.
Speaking on the occasion, Ndifreke (Freky) Andrew-Essien, Executive Director, FAECARE Foundation, urged the Government to roll out better laws that really promote the rights of Persons with disabilities in the state.
According to the Executive Director, “Government should re-instate relevant offices, councils and committees at state, local government level and all government parastatals, to see to the advancement and promotion of the rights and welfare of persons with disabilities in Rivers State.
“Government of Rivers state should make budgeting inclusive to accommodate the needs of Persons with Disabilities, Disability Mainstreaming and Inclusion, for the sustainable growth and development of the State.
“The Ministry of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation, should make deliberate efforts to ensure that disability issues do not take on a charity model or medical model only but promote and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities and implementation of the existing laws.
“The Ministry of Women Affairs should intentionally mainstream disability in all its affairs, interventions and programs as it affects women, ensuring that women with disabilities are no longer disenfranchised and excluded.
Ndifreke charges relevant MDAs to stop approving inaccessible private and public buildings used by the public and enforce relevant restructuring and utilities for accessibility in these buildings as provided for in the act.
“The media should practice proper representation of disability and persons with disabilities in main stream media. The media should partner with organizations of persons with disabilities to increase awareness on the provisions of these laws, highlighting that violation of Disability rights is a punishable offence under current existing laws.
“Inclusive communication must become a priority for media houses when communicating public information, providing access to information.
“Civil Society Organizations, Organizations of Persons with Disabilities and Persons with disabilities themselves, must work together to ensure that these existing laws are implemented at all levels of governance (State and Local Government).
“As strategic partners in this quest for social inclusion, we urge you to please escalate this issue through your respective medium so it gets the much needed attention required to effect a responsive change to include PWDs needs and rights in Rivers State.
“We call on all stakeholders, in the public, private and social sector, and growth seeking individuals in Rivers State to prioritize disability rights, inclusion and disability mainstreaming in all systems, institutions and the society at large in Rivers State. Disability is Everyone’s business.”
While launching “Disability Rights Initiative Project (DRIP)””, a project focused on advancing the rights of Persons with Disabilities in Rivers State with supported from Disability Rights Fund (DRF).
The Director said the project will shift in favor the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Rivers state, with a lot of emphasis on women and girls with disabilities.
“Our approach on this project, is one that focuses on equipping and empowering PWDs with the knowledge, and skills to strategically advocate for their rights.”
Ndifreke stressed that the project aims to promote the PWD as advocate for the change he or she desires. It positions PWDs as the agents of the change they pursue, while seeking the right partnerships that will amplify their voices at different levels in society.
She cautioned that “Failure to intentionally and consistently include PWDs in promoting their own rights and awareness raising will continue to cause an increase inequalities and this project addresses this by building the capacity of the PWDs, in Rivers State to become strategic advocates.
“With the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities prohibition act in Nigeria in its fourth year, and the Rivers State Persons with Disabilities Welfare (Enhancement) Law of 2012, it has become very essential that we must insist on the implementation of disability rights in Rivers state.
“Considering that the elections in Nigeria are coming up in few weeks, with so many manifestos and number point agendas released, there is no better time than now to demand from current and prospective leaders to do right, by building an inclusive society for all by making disability inclusion and disability mainstreaming their mandate. The government especially need to understand that policies need to be acted on and laws should be implemented”, She said.