By Abayomi Adeshida – Abuja
An American based non-profit group, the Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities International, Inc., has expressed the hope that the establishment of the Nigerians Disability Rights Commission would begin to address the fundamental problems of the country which had been left unattended by successive leaders until they crystallized into insecurity, terrorism, kidnapping, and banditry across the country.
These were contained in a media release circulated in Abuja over the weekend by the President of the non-government organisation, Chief Eric Ufom who wrote on behalf of the body and its American and Nigerian based allies with whom they have worked jointly for over two decades to advocate for the establishment of the Commission and lay a solid foundation for the opportunities to make Nigerians with disabilities to make well-coordinated positive contributions to nation-building.
According to them, the exclusion of Nigerians with disabilities, “predated since 1914 Nigeria’s amalgamation and 1960 Nigeria’s independence, whereby millions of Nigerians with Disabilities were completely discriminated against, marginalized, excluded from National annual budgets, programs, and services, mistreated and tortured, which today, directly contributed to Nigeria’s massive INSECURITY, Terrorism, Banditry, and other serious, complex problems”.
They, therefore, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for accepting the bill for the establishment of the Nigerian Disability Rights Commission which was the crowning of the efforts of his predecessors in office, President Olusegun Obasanjo; Late President Umaru Musa Yarádua, and President Goodluck Jonathan.
The statement which was titled, US-Based PWD Thanks and Congratulates President Buhari for ending 20 Years Struggle for a Nigerians Disability Rights Commission, signed from Houston-Texas in the United States of America reads, “We the members of the Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities International, Inc and our Allies, thank and Congratulate HE President Muhammadu Buhari for continuing on August 24, 2020, with his making of great historic LEGACIES, while protecting and promoting the constitutional rights, equality, and dignity of 31 million Nigerians with Disabilities, 15 million Almajiris, millions of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) and retired older Nigerians.
“President Buhari, ended our long journey of over twenty years, faced by a lot of permanent man-made barriers placed on our rough ways to successfully, advocate and negotiate with the Nigerian Government to enact, vote and pass into law, a Nigerians with Disabilities Rights Bill with a Commission. And we congratulate those selected as members of the governing council for the Commission.
“Buhari granted our multiple official requests and demands to establish a Commission, under the UN CRPD and the new disabilities Rights Law, by approving and announcing the names of the governing council for an independent, Implementation, Commission for the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018 (Nigerians with Disabilities Act (NDA)),” the group observed.
Giving an historic perspective to the making of the build-up to the establishment of the Commission, the group also went down memory lane by stating that, “On January 23, 2019, President Buhari, made huge historic LEGACY for himself, his family, Nigerian-Americans with Disabilities and others in the Diaspora, our 31 million Nigerians with disabilities based in Nigeria, 15 million Almajiris and Street Beggars, who were victims of childhood traumas, millions of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) who were victims of Traumas experienced in the hands of Terrorism, Bandits, and other man-made violent conflicts.
“Buhari assented into law, the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities Prohibition Act 2018, under Nigeria’s mandatory Obligations to fully implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at its accompanying Optional Protocol, signed by President Olusegun Obasanjo, on March 30, 2007, and ratified by President Goodluck Jonathan on September 23, 2010
“We thank the Wife of the President, Her Excellency Hajia Aisha Mohammadu Buhari for fully honoring her promise made through Dr. Hajo Sani, OON, SSA to the President, Office of the Wife of the President and her daughter, Miss, Zara Buhari, assuring us of the speedy establishment of an independent Implementation Commission, during the occasion of the Celebration of Peace Awards at the High-Level Segment of the 74th UN General Assembly, organized by the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations, in collaborations with the Silicon Valley Nigerian Economic Developments (SV-NED), lead by HRH Queen Mother Temitope Ajayi (Mama Diaspora); Back Tie International Magazine and World Award Foundation, held at the UN Headquarters, New York, September 25, 2019.
“We thank and congratulate everybody, especially, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which we copied its successful model with little amendments to fit into our Nigerian different local contents and multi-cultures, during every critical stage of our advocacy and negotiations with the Nigerian National Assembly and the successive administration that had reigned in the Nigerian Executive arm of government throughout the time of our struggle.
“We also thank and congratulate all others, especially, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Hajia Amina; HE President Olusegun Obasanjo; HE Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua; HE President Goodluck Jonathan; UN DSPS/DESA; UN Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, International Disability Alliance (IDA), former members of the International Disabilities Caucus (IDC), Rehabilitation International (RI); Disabled Persons International (DPI); United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD); Disability Rights Education Defense Fund (DREDF)’ Mobility International, United States (MIUSA); Emeka Okafor Foundation; CADUS-USA; Silicon Valley; Nigerians Economic Development, Inc (SV-NED-INC); Back Tie International Magazine; World Award Foundation and many other USA based organizations for their roles and cooperation as at the time they made their contributions towards this successful ending.
“We thank God that our over twenty years-long journeys, advocating and negotiating with the Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua and President Goodluck Jonathan to establish an independent, Implementation Disability Rights Commission, which will guarantee Disability-Inclusive Developments, national, states and local governments annual budgets, which will guarantee continuity-sustainability of programs and services, Sustainable Development Goals (2030) Agenda, Digital economic, Innovation and technological developments, just came to an end with the establishment of a COMMISSION.
“We thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under the current Minister, Hon. Geffrey Onyeama; the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations under the President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande; Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Permanent Representative, Prof. Joy U. Ogwu; Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations; HE Ambassador Aminu Bashir Wali, Former Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations and Minister of Foreign Affairs, HE Ambassador Chijioke Wigwe; HE Ambassador Obi-Okoye, Mr. Irom A. Awassam, Councellor/HOC, Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations, for their direct foundation supports which led to this Historic achievement and Legacy.
“We thank the Former Senate President, the Distinguished Senator Bukola Abubakar Saraki; the Former Hon. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara; the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice Alhaji Abubakar Malami (SAN); Secretary to the Government of the Federation of Nigeria, Boss Mustapha; the Former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation of Nigeria, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, and the Distinguished Senator Osita Izunaso, for their belief in us by their responses to our multiple letters and by taking positive actions, which led to the establishment of the COMMISSION.
“On June 11-14, 2017, Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities International, Inc, led by the President, Chief Eric Ndubueze Ufom, Mrs. Ngozi Pauline Ikebuaku, Executive Secretary and Mr. Frances Okeke, Board Chairman, in collaboration with Kpapkando Foundation, led by the Distinguished Senator Osita Izunaso, Founder-Board Chair, and Mrs. Patricia Ovuoke John-Oseh, Executive Director, Center for Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities, led by Miss Omotunde Ellen Thompson, Executive Director, Miss Oluwakemi Okufuwa, Executive Director, Foundation for the Support of Nigerian Veterans, Barrister Chukwuka Bertrand Ezewuzie, Senior Special Assistant to the Anambra State Governor on Disability Matters and several others, embarked on Disabilities Civil Rights Campaign movement to inaugurate Breaking over one-decade man-made Barriers placed on Nigeria’s true implementations of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) at the UN Headquarters, New York.
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“We thank God that on August 24, 2020, our campaign ended up with good results. We thank and congratulate all the participants because their direct actions breaking permanent barriers brought these excellent results and achievement and historic legacy.
“The work at hand for the Commission is huge because it predated since 1914 Nigeria’s amalgamation and 1960 Nigeria’s independence, whereby millions of Nigerians with Disabilities were completely discriminated against, marginalized, excluded from National annual budgets, programs, and services, mistreated and tortured, which today, directly contributed to Nigeria’s massive INSECURITY, Terrorism, Banditry, and other serious, complex problems. Hopefully, the established National Disability Rights COMMISSION will directly help Nigeria to start addressing them.