Abia State Governor, Alex Otti, Wednesday decried the exclusion of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in governance, assuring them of equal opportunity and all-inclusive governance in the state.
Otti stated this during the Abia State Disability Day Celebration/Interactive Session held in Umuahia, lamenting the exclusion of the people from playing active and leadership roles in the political and social life in Nigeria.
Discussing the theme ‘Accelerating Action to Enhance Access and Participation of Abians with Disabilities in Governance’, Otti, who was represented by his Deputy, Ikechukwu Lekwachi Emetu challenged political parties to rise up to the occasion by analyzing their policy initiatives and manifestos to determine the areas where their documents encourage or hinder the inclusion of people with disabilities in political party activities, practices, and processes.
He called for a multi-stakeholder approach, involving traditional institutions, religious bodies, and families of people with disabilities to come together to implement the provisions of the Abia State Disability Law, stating, “As a government with great concern for the people with disabilities in Abia State, we shall continue to adhere to the provisions of the Abia State Disability Law to improve the lots of people with disability in the state.
“You can agree with me that in Abia State of today, the rights and privileges of persons with disability have been the centrepiece of this administration.”
The governor said that his government will always accord persons with disability their due rights as seen in the coronation of an auditory-impaired person as a traditional ruler of an autonomous community in the state, the appointment of people with disabilities in his government, the inauguration of para-sports in the state and sponsorship to paralympic events, including the 2023 National Para Games held in Abuja where the state came second, winning medals and a trophy from the National Sports Commission and assured of his commitment to strengthen engagement mechanisms to foster the inclusion of persons with disabilities in policy-making processes at all levels.
In his speech, the Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, Sir Nwaobilor Ananaba eulogized the talents exhibited by persons with disabilities and thanked Governor Otti for his support in giving them a sense of belonging. He stated that a youth empowerment platform will soon be launched to facilitate the smooth dispensation of their welfare/empowerment packages.
Speaking earlier, the Special Assistant to the Governor on Persons with Disabilities, Mr. David Anyaele thanked Governor Otti for his determined commitment to championing the welfare of people with disabilities in the state.
In their various presentations, the Chairman and members of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, Abia State Chapter, expressed delight and confidence in Governor Otti’s administration and prayed for the activation of the Abia State Disability Commission whose responsibility is to ensure full implementation of Abia Disability Law, affirmation of the 7% slot of employment both in public and private establishments, building of a secondary school for the deaf, vehicle for the association, improvement in the educational standards of their various institutions, award of scholarships and skills training of her members.