Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Why Governor Obiano of Anambra is the most PWD Friendly Governor in Nigeria

...Establishes Disability Rights Commission, Appoints Ezewuzie as Chairman

By Ukpa Ewa and Ukorebi Esien

The Governor of Anambra State Chief Willie Obiano has approved the establishment of the disability rights commission while appointing Barr Chucks Ezewuzie as as Chairman / Chief Executive Officer for the Commission. TDN can authoritatively report.

Obiano made this public in an event held in Prof. Dora Akunyili Women Development Center, Awka in commemoration of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities

While recounting Gov. Obiano's achievement for the disability community, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Disability Matters said the appointment was in line with section (3) of the disability rights law to improve welfare and inclusion of persons with disabilities ( PWD) in society.

He maintained that the law was in public confined with the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities with a multilateral treaty in which Nigeria was a signatory.

Barr. Chucks Ezewuzie who commended Governor Obiano for his legacy projects which were handicapped-friendly and accessible further disclosed that over 130 persons PWD were employed in the state civil service workforce last year.

In her remarks, the State Coordinator of the Rule of Law and Anti - Corruption (ROLAC) Mrs. Josephine Onah said 25 million persons were living with disabilities and suffered a level of prejudice that was not unprecedented.

She disclosed that the day was set aside to brainstorm on critical challenges faced by PWD and more so celebrate their success and inclusiveness as ROLAC has supported the implementation of disability rights law through a directory with developed communication support for sign language interpreters.

"Inclusiveness is required to entrench into the society at every level to break the barrier for persons living with disabilities to be fully involved in issues of humanity, political, social and economic well being of the disability community".

Speaking on the theme " Leadership and Participation of Persons with Disabilities Towards an Inclusive, Accessible and Sustainable COVID - 19 World" the State Chairman Joint National Association of Persons With Disability (JONAPWD) Anambra Chapter, Comrade Ugochukwu Okeke pointed out that there was no way persons with disabilities would participate actively or get involved in leadership positions if the society was not inclusive and accessible.

"It is pertinent to note that this year's theme was carefully selected to incite thoughts around what could be done to ensure that every barrier that prevents persons with disabilities to participate actively in the society in the area of occupying leadership positions are consciously removed," he said.

The Chairman however called for inclusive participation, universal access to public infrastructures and facilities, equal access to public information, equity in the distribution of wealth and resources, quality education, and effective leadership.

Persons with disabilities have been marginalized and underrepresented in many facets of societal engagements. Therefore, the establishment of a commission to cater to their affairs is a step in the right direction.

According to 2011 records with World Health Organization, about 25 million Nigerians fall among People With Disabilities, this makes up about 15% of the country's population. Many of whom have suffered a number of human rights abuses, stigma, discrimination, violence lack of education, Healthcare etc.

In order to whittle the pains and suffering of these sets of persons, Nigeria in 2007 ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) and its Optional Protocol in 2010. This has given rise to many agitations for government to put into practice the content of the convention.

In acting on the several pressures and calls from civil societies, in 2011 and 2015, the National Assembly passed the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Bill 2009, which former President Goodluck Jonathan declined to sign it into law. The bill for the new law was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate joint committee in November 2016, but was not sent to Buhari for his signature until December 2018. Finally in January of 2019, President Muhammad Buhari signed the bill into law.

The law kicks against the discrimination of people with disabilities while stipulating a five year transitional period for the modification of public buildings, other facilities including cars to make them accessible and usable for people with disabilities.

It also include the establishment of National Commission for People With Disabilities, which will look into issues affecting people living with disabilities as well as ensure they have access to education, health care and other basic amenities.

Accordingly, the law alone, is only one aspect of the whole process as enshrined in the United Nation's charter. Nigerian government needs to put measures in place to enforce the law, and ensure equal treatment of people with disabilities in all ramifications.

In doing this, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State seems to be the only governor in Nigeria who has taken the lives of people with disabilities seriously as he has not only domesticated Nigeria's ratification of the United Nation's Convention in Anambra state, a bill as been signed into law to protect and Carter for the needs of people with disabilities in Anambra state.

Obiano also went on to establish the Disability Rights Commission and Appointed a Chairman for the commission.

Obiano who approved the establishment of the Commission, on Friday, 3rd December 2021 went on to appoint Barr. Chucks Ezewuzie. Obiano currently has employed not less 130 persons with disabilities into Anambra State's civil service and holds constant engagement with people with disabilities through Joint National Association of Persons With Disability (JONAPWD).

It is worthy of knowing that Governor Willie Obiano was the first person to give assent to the Anambra State Disability Rights Law thereby making the state the first and only state in the southeast to have legislation that protects the rights of persons with disabilities.