By Abayomi Adeshida – Abuja
An America-based Non-profit group, Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities International, has urged the Federal Government to leverage on the foundation laid by the Obasanjo administration thirteen years ago to protect over thirty million Nigerians with disability from deadly diseases including the ravaging COVID-19 that is currently increasing in Nigeria.
In a widely circulated statement that was signed by it’s President, Chief Eric Ufom, it implored the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari to look into the UN document signed by the Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo to provide adequate protection from the current COVID-19 as well as other diseases that might affect them due to the problems of climate change in Nigeria.
“So far, there has not been adequate provision for protecting Nigerians living with disabilities and being vulnerable people, they would become helpless if the virus should infect them.
“President Muhammadu Buhari should, therefore, direct the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation., Mr. Boss Mustapher to work with the UN document that Nigeria endorsed thirteen years ago.
“That treaty of the United Nations provides adequate protection for the over one billion living with disabilities around the world if domesticated and implemented by countries that endorsed the vital document.
“Similarly, the document is capable of providing coverage for the over thirty-one million Nigerians who have been identified to currently live with one form of disability or the other in all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria”,”Chief Ufom submitted.
While giving some details of the UN Treaty, he said, on December 13, 2006, the United Nations member state adopted the Human Rights Treaty of the 21st Century, called, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and mandated that; “The Convention follows decades of work by the United Nations to change attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities.
“It takes to a new height the movement from viewing persons with disabilities as “objects” of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as “subjects” with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society.”
The UN Treaty went further to mandate on its Article 4, titled General Obligation, especially, in section 4.3 that; “In the development and implementation of legislation and policies to implement the present Convention, and in other decision-making processes concerning issues relating to persons with disabilities, States Parties shall closely consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, through their representative organizations.”
“March 30, 2007, was a miraculous day because Nigeria through Her Excellency, Ambassador Prof. U. Joy Ogwu, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations, joined the World’s community, to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its accompanying Optional Protocol for the Protection and promotions of the rights, equality, and dignity of Nigerians with Disabilities.
“Also present at the memorable event as a member of the Nigerian delegation to witness the signing was Chief Eric Ndubueze Ufom, who serves as a member of the Rehabilitation International (RI), Disabled Peoples International (DPI), United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD), International Disability Alliance (IDA), International Disability Caucus (IDC) and the UN, Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities (A/RES/60/232).
Chief Ufom who leads the Non-profit organisation based in Texas, United States of America, has successfully led a team of Nigerians in the Diaspora through the advocacy and negotiations with Nigeria and also witnessed Nigeria’s signing of the UN CRPD on behalf of Nigerians with Disabilities.