…Makes Case for Better Welfare for PWDs
By Ifeanyi Ndukwe
The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities has held its fourth year anniversary in commemoration of its Disability Rights Law established in 2018. The event took place last December at Prof Dora Akunyili Women’s Development Centre, Awka, Anambra State.
In his keynote speech, the chairman, JONAPWD, Anambra State Chapter, Comr Ugochukwu Ernest Okeke, thanked all for honouring their invitation. He said the essence was to call the attention of the public, government and major stakeholders, to enlighten them on the general conditions affecting their affairs and the need to protect the rights of persons with disability.
He decried what he described as the marginalisation of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), naming them under the following: negative and lackadaisical attitude of the public to PWDs, lack of sign language teachers, inaccessible roads, marriages with non persons with disabilities, attitude of government functionaries towards them, among others.
Okeke said the interest of PWDs were elevated after the state read the Disability Act at the 6th Assembly with the influence of Nnewi South Constitutuency 1 representative, Hon. Kingsley lruba, and the bill was assented to by Governor Willie Obiano.
Fides gathers that the bill provides a platform for PWDs to enjoy certain privileges which include, construction of mobile ramps at various parts of the state, appointment of Disability Desk Officer at National Human Rights Commission, support from faith based organisations and civil society organisations to adapt access to PWDs, increased employment opportunity in various levels of government, among others.
He stressed the challenges facing PWDs and appealed to the government and good spirited individuals to support them; even as he enumerated some of the challenges to include, inaccessibility of public structures, lackadaisical attitudes of members of the public, and refusal of motorists to alight PWDs at convenient places.
He continued by highlighting the expectations of the association to include, effectiveness of the Disability Rights Commission, provision of employment of PWDs, extension of service year to 70 years,social protection programme, housing scheme, scholarship and health care.
Okeke further appealed for urgent attention on the construction of ramps at the utility hall of Prof. Dora Akunyili Centre and Dr Alex Ekwueme Square, mobility aid allowance and special skill acquisition programmes.
On the same note, NSCDC, Desk Officer, ASC1, Amaka Anadumaka, said it was the duty of the agency to protect the rights of PWDs. She admonished the leadership to exercise continuous effort to notify the security agency.
While fielding questions, Okeke explained that each community had a Disability Community Circle, a platform to help notify the top leadership regarding any challenge or stigmation for or of those in rural areas.
He appealed that PWDs should be given opportunity to represent society at least from the ward level
‘We have to mobilise our members to take proactive steps to vote in the coming elections. We believe this will resolve certain issues regarding active participation in politics,’ he said.
In a vote of thanks, Amobi Nwagu thanked all for honoring the invitation. He appealed for the intervention of the media to ensure widespread reportage of the affairs of the PWDs.