Home Disability News Stakeholders Urge PWDs to Join Active Politics

Stakeholders Urge PWDs to Join Active Politics

by Inclusive News Network
Published: Last Updated on

People with Disabilities, PWDs, have been mandated to join any political party of their choice in order to be relevant in the political governance in Nigeria.

The charge was handed down to them in Lagos by stakeholders at a one day dialogue on the way forward in enhancing participation of Persons with Disabilities in political and electoral processes in Nigeria.

The dialogue was one of the many activities that the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, CCD, organised to enhance the political space for PWDs to participate actively in the governance process.

The Head of Finance and Administration at CCD, Mrs. Florence Chima Austin said that the stakeholders meeting sought to disabuse the mind of politicians that PWDs have no political values.

She said that CCD has empowered PWDs about their rights under the law and what they are expected to do when their rights are infringed upon.

A Programme Officer with the CCD, Miss. Christiana Njoku said that in the last three years CCD has engaged all the key players that have the capacity to open up the political space for PWDs to participate actively.

She listed the key players to include political parties under the umbrella of Inter Party Advisory Council, IPAC, the Judiciary, the Police and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps.

Ms. Njoku said that PWDs are greatly endowed and that to limit their participation in the political space amounts to discrimination which in itself is an affront on the National Disability Law.

A representative of IPAC, Mr. Richard Benson acknowledged the great role that CCD has been playing in ensuring total inclusiveness of PWDs in the political process.

He said that every political party has provisions for PWDs and give them certain incentives like paying nothing less for expression of interest form.

A Councilor of the All Progressive Congress, representing Apeno Ward in Oshodi/Idoko, Mr. Agbabiaka Yusuf Temitope confirmed Mr. Benson’s claim saying that he paid only Five thousand Naira for expression of interest form whereas others were paying over one hundred thousand Naira. He said that he bought forms to contest five times before he eventually became a Councilor. Mr. Agbabiaka acknowledged that the political terrain is tough and that he had been addressed decoratively in the past because of his disability. He challenged PWDs with interest in politics not to be deterred but focused.

The Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, Barrister Lukeman Salami urged political parties to ensure that they encourage and support PWDs to be voted into political offices as Councilors, members of the State and National Assembly.

Barrister Salami said that many PWDs are highly literate and therefore have what it takes to occupy even the highest office in the land.

He said that politicians were shortchanging the country by sidelining PWDs in political appointments saying that PWDs are fit to be Ministers, Commissioners, Director Generals and whatever offices that are available.

In a paper entitled “Enhancing PWDs Participation in Politics and Political Processes,” a Politician who is visually impaired, Mr. Afolabi Kayode said that many PWDs have very low esteem hence they are scared of politics.

Mr. Kayode confirmed that the political terrain in Nigeria is tough and sought for legislation that will reserve some political seats in State and National Assembly for PWDs

He challenged PWDs to wake up and take the bull by the horn by first registering to become members of any of the political parties and to make sure that they attend and contribute meaningfully in party activities at the ward level upwards.

According to him, it is when they attend meetings regularly and contribute meaningfuly at such meetings that would be reckoned with and elected or appointed into party offices.

by Fabian Anawo

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