by Jonathan Nda-Isaiah
As Nigeria joins the global community to commemorate this year’s International Disability Day, People With Disabilities (PWDs) have said that what they needed is empowerment and not public sympathy.
The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, FCT Chapter, also called on the Federal Government to fully implement the Disabilities Discrimination Prohibition Act passed by the National Assembly.
This is as the National Association of Seadogs (NAS) and Pyrates Confraternity, on Saturday, hosted the Abuja branch of PWDs.
The leadership of the FCT chapter of PWDs in an interactive session organised by NAS, Abuja Chapter, in Kubwa, frowned at the continued discrimination and stigmatisation of their members asking government to always involve them in its economic and developmental plans.
Speaking at the interactive session, the FCT chairman of people with disability, Abubakar Abduljeleel, said what they needed was empathy and not sympathy, adding that with empowerment, they would be able to contribute to the development of the country.
He said, “We have been neglected for a long period of time but with the efforts of the NGOs and the international comnunity, we feel the sense of bekonging. We need NAS and the NGOs to help in the implenentation of the Disability law in various government agencies and departments.”
Speaking on the allotted five per cent allocation in employment in both public and private sectors, the group said government should ensure full implementation of the percentage and also involve their members in vocational training that will make them independent.
Abduljaleed said, “We need NAS and the NGOs to help us to ensure that the five percent given to us for employment get to us. PWDs are not being carried along in government policies. Out of the six Council Chairmen in Abuja, three have appointed our members as Special Advisers.
“We need an executive office so that we can carry our people along. Some people look at people with one form of disability or the other as nobody. We are very happy that God has sent NAS to feel our condition and have us in their mind.
“There are marginalisation going on, the society condemns everything about those with disability. We may be disabled physically but agile spiritually. We want NAS to help us reach the well to do in the society to help in empowerment programs. Scholarship opportunities will reduce the level of harassment we face. We dont want symoathy, what we want is emparthy.”
They also expressed the need for their members to love themselves to defeat stigmatisation from the outside world.
Other members of the association, who spoke at the event, advocated for executive positions for their members, accessibility into public premises and empowerment as many of their members they said have already been trained in many vocations.
Speaking on their resolve towards improving the lots of the persons living with disabilities, the Publicity Secretary of the Abuja2 Chapter of NAS, Barrister Charles Ndukwe, flanked by the coordinator of the interactive session, Augustine Ukaegbu, said the essence of the interaction was to remind government of their primary responsibilities towards those with disabilities.
He said that it was part of its Corporate Social Respobsibilities and humanistic ideals to carter for the less priviledged in the society.
He said, “You are part of the nation and part of the internarional community. You should not be discouraged in whatever condition you find yourselves.”
Ndukwe, however, assured the PWDs that the Pyrates Confraternity will work to ensure that whatever belongs to them reaches them.
PWDs members, who attended the event from the six local government councils of the FCT, were treated to lunch with sumptuous meals by NAS as well as cash donation to each and everyone of them in attendance.