By Sani Idris
Mr Rilwan Abdullahi, the President of the National Association of Persons with Physical Disabilities, has called for a fundamental shift in commitment, solidarity, financing and actions in support of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
Abdullahi made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Kaduna.
He said that it was also imperative to ensure the inclusion of the voices, needs and priorities of the PWDs in mapping out programmes affecting them.
“PWDs are not heroes, and are not victims, we are agents of our own destiny seeking an equal place in the Nigerian project.
”This is a call to action, to redouble efforts to rescue and achieve the SDGs for persons with disabilities,” he said.
According to him, the PWDs story is that of struggle, determination, resilience, grit, and never giving up even in the face of daunting challenges.
He said the celebration of the International Day of PWDs on December 3, would not immediately redress the discrimination PWDs face in Nigeria.
The president, however, acknowledged that the situation of the PWDs had improved in the last few years, with the enactment of the National Disability Act and some subnational disability laws across the country.
Abdullahi said Nigerians should regard the international day for PWDs as an opportunity to look both at what has been achieved and what is still left, to enhance the lives of PWDs in the country.
“Internationally, the most important occurrence this year for PWDs was the passage by the United Nations General Assembly of the International Convention on the Rights of PWDs.
“The convention, which almost 120 countries have signed, and eight have ratified, sets out fundamental rights and freedoms for PWDs around the world, in all areas of life,” he said.
On achieving the SDGs with regards to PWDs, Abdullahi said it would be difficult, adding that women and girls with disabilities have been left behind due to the barriers at the intersection between gender and disability.
He said that the barrier must be broken to fulfil the pledge that no one will be left behind.
Abdullahi also highlighted that PWDs had been disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change, conflicts, stigma and discrimination, inadequate finances, and inability to access public buildings.
According to him, it is imperative to ensure disability-inclusive development and effective mainstreaming of disability issues, including its financing to overcome the challenges.
He urged the public to work with disability advocacy organisations to achieve positive changes and rescue the SDGs to impact positively on the lives of PWDs. (NAN)
Edited by Maharazu Ahmed