By: Abayomi Adeshida
The Federal Government has been urged to consider the inclusion of Nigerians with physical challenges in the composition of the Nigerian People With Disabilities Commission (NPWDC) so that the essence of the passing the law that established the Commission would not be lost on the real people that the law was originally set to liberate from societal challenges.
This advice was contained in a statement circulated by the Founder of an American based pressure group that works towards making life easy for Nigerians with disabilities, Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities International, Chief Eric Ufom who also has some form of disability.
He observed in the statement that the call on the government was imperative at this time while the membership of the Commission has not been made public.
He insisted that his organisation which had played a pivotal role in the process of working on the law on the establishment of the Commission Because we the Nigerians with Disabilities who wear the shoes and knew where they pinch us.
” It is our legal and constitutional rights to be in charge under the mandates set by the UN CRPD Article 4.3, from the onset to the end of every, meeting whereby decisions of forming an Independent, implementation Commission for the Nigerians with Disabilities Act (NDA), are to be made and we hope that Government should respect this constitutional, civil, human and disability rights given directly to us by the United Nations.
“It is six months since the President has signed the law to establish the Nigeria People with Disabilities Commission and we have not heard anything about the Commission from the government.
“This is despite the enormous challenges ahead of the Commission and the rising number of Nigerians with genuine needs to be addressed.
“We were originally at the over thirty-one million Nigerians living with disabilities but the society has forced ten million members of the society to join us due to their being labelled as Almajiris.
“Just recently, the failure of the government to provide security across the country has led to humanitarian problems that have made over ten million Nigerians lose their shelter and become disabled by being labelled internally displaced persons.
“We appreciate the role the National Assembly has played so far to ensure that the Law for the establishment of the Commission was followed to its logical conclusion with the signing of the law by President Muhammadu Buhari in January this year.
“Considering the manner Nigerians with Disabilities were abandoned during the sharing of the COVID-19 palliatives recently, we have a fair idea of how they would still be abandoned if they are not given a fair representation in the Commission that is being set up to make life easy for them.
“Our Nigerians with Disabilities national leaders that include, Barr. Abdulsalam Idowu Kamaldeen, Legislative Aide to the Speaker of the House of Representatives on Disability Matters, Dr Samuel Odeh Ankeli, SSA to the President on Disability Matters, Alhaji Mishbahu Lawan Didi, APC Disability National Leader, SA to the President on Disability Matters, the Presidency’s Disability Desk Officers at the SGF and Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, The JONAPWD’s (1) Prince Paul Adelabu, Chairman, (2) Miss Omotunde Ellen Thompson, Deputy Chairperson/Secretary; (3) Mr. Usman Nahuche (member) and (4) Miss Ene Ede (member), has not ever been contacted by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, which confirmed the valid observation and conclusions made by both the Senate President and Hon. Speaker of the House of Representatives on 7th April 2020.
“We, therefore, wish to humbly and respectfully request from the National Assembly to call for an emergency meeting, as they concluded on 7th April 2020 and extend invitations to each of our National Disability Leaders as mandated by the UN CRPD article 4.3, because Nothing About Us, Without Us, in the interest of justice, due process, fair procedure and equal protections constitutional safeguards for Nigerians with Disabilities.
” In setting up the Commission for People with Disabilities in Nigeria, we, therefore, wish to urge the government to abide by the United Nations Human Rights Mandate on such establishments around the world.
“The laid down procedure understands the fact that Government always makes wrong decisions for persons with disabilities, therefore, there was a need to put a permanent stop to it and mandated that Government must abide by their obligations under the treaty and fully obey and comply by Article 4.3, which Nigeria has refused to comply with so far.
“There was a very serious valid, arguable and verifiable reason(s) why the UN Treaty mandated on its Article 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.” Nothing About Us, Without Us. ” the non-profit group stated.
The Leader of the body, Chief Eric Ufom, was the official leader of Nigerians in the Diaspora delegation, to the United Nations, who as a member of the Rehabilitation International (RI), Disabled Persons International (DPI), United States International Council on Disability (USICD), International Disability Alliance (IDA), the International Disability Caucus (IDC); when the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and UN 8th Sessions Ad Hoc Committee for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which was adopted on 13th December 2006, and also, signed and ratified with other Nations.