TAF Africa, an international non-governmental organization, has called on President Bola Tinubu and the 36 state governors, to consider appointments of People With Disabilities (PWDs) as ministers and commissioners, saying that a group that constitutes 35million of the Nigerian population cannot be ignored.
The NGO, which is currently working to strengthen institutions on governance and rule of law for disability inclusion at the Grassroots, made the call in Kaduna on Monday when it took its advocacy to the Kaduna State Disability Affairs Board.
Leading the TAF Africa team, the programme manager, Olayemi Samuel said that TAF Africa was in Kaduna to seek partnership with the board on ensuring participation of PWDs in the electoral process, with a particular target on the grassroots.
He said: “We are here this morning to seek partnership on one of our projects supported by the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives which aims to strengthen institutions on governance and rule of law for disability people improvement from the grassroots.
“A number of policies have been put in place that promote the participation of persons with disabilities, including the Electoral Act 2022. However, we want to bring this down to the state level, by ensuring the PWDs participate fully in the electoral process and we are going to do this with the Disability Affairs Board to engage relevant stakeholders and ensure that relevant frameworks are being enhanced to promote the participation of PWDs.”
Speaking on the appointment of PWDs, Samuel said, the appointment of PWDs in public offices in Nigeria is very low and is worrisome, noting that, none of about 50 ministers so far appointed is a representative of the PWDs community, which he said shows that they are being neglected, and discriminated against.
He, however, said: “We want a situation where we have representatives of PWDs as ministers, commissioners and heads of parastatals. If you want to initiate or implement a policy it will be good that you have the primary beneficiaries of such policy. The kind of input you get from them, and the support you get from them in the implementation of such policy is crucial.
“As it is now, the disability community which constitutes about 35 million of Nigeria’s population are not being carried along and we have made frantic effort to reach the President through an open letter, demanding and advocating for the appointment of PWDs as Ministers. We are using this medium again to call on all relevant stakeholders and the President, Governors, and local government chairmen to consider the appointment of PWDs into government.
“Among PWDs, we have PhD holders, lawyers that have the capacity and can contribute to the governance and development of this country. Of course, if you have someone with a Disability as a humanitarian Minister, you should expect such a person to perform better being part of PWDs because they will be promoting the rights of PWDs and ensure their rights are not trampled upon. The issue of discrimination will be minimized.”
In her response, the Executive Secretary of Kaduna State Disability Affairs Board, Hajia Rakiya Umar said the Board welcomes the partnership with TAF Africa, saying that, it will be willing to work with the NGO, especially in the area of awareness creation for Kaduna State Disability Law and prevention of diseases that can lead to some form of disabilities.
Also speaking at the meeting, the President of Persons Living With Physical Disabilities in Kaduna State, Malam Rilwan Mohammed, said legal frameworks were no longer the challenges of PWD, but the implementation of the existing laws, adding that, if the Kaduna State disability law is fully implemented, all the challenges of PWDs will be addressed.