The Albino Foundation (TAF Africa) has tasked the president-elect, Sen. Bola Tinubu and governors-elect to appoint Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) as ministers and commissioners.
Mr Jake Epelle, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer ,TAF Africa said this at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday.
Epelle also advised Tinubu to incorporate PWDs into his transition committee as there was non in the committee presently.
He said that at the onset of preparations for the 2023 general elections, TAF Africa through its European Union Support for Democratic Governance in Nigeria II programme built the capacity of PWDs to contest for elective positions.
He said that although none of the engaged PWD candidates was successful at the polls, their willingness to contest was a strong message that PWDs were capable of contesting for elections and will be willing to perform when given the opportunity.
“With the end of the 2023 general elections and the emergence of elected individuals, an opportunity to drive disability inclusion and strengthen the political voices of persons with disabilities in Nigeria’s political process has been birthed.
“These elected individuals have a duty to entrench disability inclusion in their governance by making their political appointments disability inclusive.
“By being appointed as ministers, commissioners, heads of parastatals, special advisers, among others , PWDs are empowered to take their place alongside other citizens in affecting wide-ranging policies as it affects disability inclusion.
“As it is said “Nothing About Us Without Us” relies solely on the principle of participation, no policy should be decided by any representative without the full and direct participation of members of the group affected by that policy.
“Hence the need for disability inclusion in every sphere of governance,” he said.
Epelle expressed disappointment that in spite of the disability inclusion interventions at the national level, the transition committee of the president-elect had no representation of the community of PWDs.
He said that this could have been a unique opportunity to break down social stigmas by ensuring that PWDs appear alongside other citizens as active participants in the transition process of the president-elect.
“As the world beams its torchlight on disability inclusion in electoral processes, we call on the President-elect, Governor-elect, and all elected individuals in the thirty-six (36) states of the federation including the federal capital territory to take the opportunity.
“This ,is to collaborate and commit to driving disability inclusion in their governance, by appointing persons with disabilities to become political office holders in their respective states,” he said.
Epelle also encouraged all elected individuals to priorities the appointment of persons with disabilities who contested for positions during the 2023 general elections but could not make it at the polls.
He said that the political appointments of PWDs should not be based just on their disability status but on their capacity and competence to drive positive change in public office irrespective of their disability status.
He said that Section 29 of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018 provided that all employers of labour in a public organisation should as much as possible have PWDs constituting at least five per cent of their employment.
He said that the war against discrimination against PWDs would only be won when institutions, government, and the people collectively collaborate, say no to nuances of discrimination, and actively campaign for the rights of PWDs, thereby building an equitable society for all. (NAN)