By Dirisu Yakubu
People Living With Disabilities, PLWDs in Nigeria have singled out Kogi state governor, Yahaya Bello for praise citing his inclusion of their members in the governance of the state.
This is even as they said Governor Bello is in a class of his own in providing sustainable livelihoods for PLWDs and offering them leadership appointments to contribute their quota to the development of the state.
Top professionals and world acclaimed disabilities advocates, who spoke when the Persons With Disabilities gathered for a strategic talk-shop on their participation in 2023 politics, pledged their support for Bello, saying “we will support those who support us.”
The seminar with the theme, “PLWDs, Politics, Power and Powerlessness”, was organized by the Centre For Ability Rehabilitation and Empowerment, in collaboration with The Ray of Hope Foundation.
Chief Responsibility Officer, Centre For Ability Rehabilitation and Empowerment (CARE), Dr. Chike Okogwu, who gave the keynote address, commended Governor Bello for not only domesticating the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, but also “towering high above his few counterparts in showcasing the raw abilities of PLWDs to succeed and make differences in any assignment they are saddled with.
He said Bello had appointed more PLWDs into public offices than any other state governor in Nigeria had done and urged other governors and indeed all politicians to emulate him.
Okogwu, a Havard-trained disabilities advocate, also lauded the Kogi Governor for the way and manner he championed the move for PLWDs to be registered as members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to the extent of sponsoring advertorials in this regard.
He described the governor’s efforts as a masterpiece, adding that if other governors and political leaders could emulate his gestures towards improving the living conditions of PLWDs, the country would be a better place for all.
CARE’s Chief Responsibility Officer also praised President Muhammadu Buhari for signing into law the Discrimination Against Persons with disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018, stressing that the Act had turned PLWDs from “nobodys” to “somebodys.”
Okogwu added: “Some state governments like Plateau, Lagos, Jigawa, Kano, Imo, Anambra, Kogi and very recently, Kaduna have domesticated the Act (Discrimination Against Persons with disabilities (Prohibition) Act) in their respective states. Some have and others are about to set up Disabilities Commissions with all of them appointing PLWDs into government as Special Advisers or Personal Assistants on Disabilities.
“A few states have encouraged PLWDs to become Permanent Secretaries. One state governor who towers above the rest, is the Kogi State Action Governor, Yahaya Bello, who has appointed more PLWDs into different government leadership positions outside disabilities related matters to showcase the raw abilities in the capacities of PLWDs to succeed.
Meanwhile, Okogwu advocated that PLWDs should constitute nothing less than 15 per cent at the Federal Executive Council, State Executive Council and also at the Local Government Councils after the 2023 general elections, adding that such political participation would create huge employment for PLWDs.