by Bola Badmus
Senior Special Assistant on Media to the President, Mr Tunde Rahman, has assured Nigerians of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s strong commitment to addressing the fears and aspirations of People with Disabilities, PWDs, adding that Tinubu was deeply concerned about vulnerable communities, including but not limited to PWDs.
The president’s aide gave this assurance when the Executive Director of Journalists for Democratic Rights (JODER), Mr Adewale Adeoye, visited Aso Villa with his team to present fresh documents highlighting the urgent need to address the needs of Nigerians living with Disabilities.
Rahman, while making the pledge, recalled that President Tinubu had said in his maiden address to Nigerians
that his government would pay special attention to people with special needs.
Speaking further, he said the media had an important role to play in highlighting the plight of PWDs to ensure they were fully integrated into the country’s social and economic framework.
JODER Executive Director, Adeoye described Mr. Rahman as a man with a rare sense of honesty, dedication, loyalty, and uprightness, adding that he continued to command the respect of top media practitioners and the civil rights movement in Nigeria.
Earlier, the JODER team had met with leading human rights organisations in Abuja to promote the media group and Ford Foundation West Africa Region work on PWDs, noting that no fewer than four million Nigerians currently live with disabilities.
According to the team, most of them are confronted with challenges of exclusion from social and economic opportunities.
The JODER team also visited the National Assembly to deliver the reports which were received by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Legislative Matters, Hon. Ibrahim Olanrewaju.
Olanrewaju expressed delight at the work of JODER on PWDs, saying that President Tinubu and the National Assembly were more than ever before determined to address the needs of Nigerians with Disabilities to ensure greater socio-economic opportunities.
He said the president and the National Assembly were aware of the plights of People with Disabilities, urging the civil society to work with the Federal parliament in its determination to address the fundamental needs of the affected people.
House of Representatives member Hon Akin Rotimi, who also received the report, said for the first time, the National Assembly had more younger people who were determined to address the plight of Nigerians in various sectors with a rare zeal and sense of deep patriotism.
The documents presented included reports on the challenges faced by PWDs in Nigeria, expectations from the government, the society, and the training manual for journalists reporting PWDs, apart from the comprehensive information on the Community Support Centre and Awareness Creation for Children with Disabilities recently set up in Lagos with the support of the Ford Foundation, West Africa Region.
JODER highlighted in the report that Nigeria had already ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Draft Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights of PWDs, while at the local level, the Nigerian government has signed into law the Discrimination Against Persons with Disability (Prohibition) Act, 2018 plus the Lagos State Special People Law.
JODER noted that some of the challenges were posted in the last national elections, in the same pattern as previous ones, when the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) did not make provisions for PWDs to enhance their capacity to vote easily.
JODER stated in the report that “The Nigerian media have done a lot in promoting the rights of PWDs, but efforts are far from being enough. In some media spaces, PWDs are still considered as less important in the allocation of media space as stories concerning PWDs are treated as sudden events, not as a continuum of serious social and economic crises that the state itself needs to address.”