Mac Arthur Foundation has urged Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working towards total inclusion and health of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) to do more to protect the rights and privileges of the disabled community.
According to the foundation, it is shameful to exclude and minoritise a community of over 25 million persons from active economic activities, especially the right to vote and be voted for.
The foundation’s Deputy Director, Amina Salihu, made this observation at a roundtable put together by the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) with a focus on strengthening inclusivity in governance for women and PWDs.
Salihu, who noted that accountability and integrity matter in the MacArthur Foundation, said the country could not be claiming to be leaving no one behind while excluding 25 million PWDs.
“We are saying leave no one behind and yet we are leaving behind over 25 million of our citizens, whose data you are using. Then, exactly, who are we lifting? This will be our integrity question because, for us, the MacArthur Foundation, accountability matters, integrity matters, and this is what is expected of us.”
“It is going to be a shame. If we, as leaders, have a community that is excluded or minoritised within our organisations, it is going to be a shame,” she noted.
Earlier in his opening remarks, PLAC’s Executive Director, Clement Nwankwo, had charged the government with more inclusivity in governance for women and PWDs.
Many people, Nwankwo said, are excluded from government, due to one challenge or another, noting that it is important for elected leaders to respond to the needs of their citizens, to help strengthen the country’s democracy.
Lauding the efforts of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the foundation for the support of PWDs in past elections, Nwankwo pointed out that more still must be done in subsequent elections.
“MacArthur Foundation provided a lot of support to PWDs inclusion, but a lot still needs to be done to strengthen inclusivity,” he added.
Addressing the issue of gender inequality in government, the director regretted that the last elections still witnessed a low number of women elected to the National Assembly.
He said: “In the last elections, we had fewer women elected to the National Assembly. Sometimes, it is so embarrassing to go out internationally, and attend meetings and you find that your NASS has a low percentage of women.
“So, in a situation where out of 469 members of the National Assembly, you have about 20 or 30 women is an embarrassment to the country,” he said.