Politics

Reactivate Disability Rights Commission for optimum performance, JONAPWD tells Soludo

OGEMDI OZOEMENAM, Awka

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The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) has urged the government of Prof Charles Chukwuma Soludo to consider reactivating the State Disability Rights Commission (DRC) to be more effective in its tasks of addressing the needs of disability community in the State.

The body made the call in Awka on Wednesday during a press briefing to mark her four (4) years anniversary of Anambra Disability Rights Law which was enacted in 2018 under the administration of immediate past Governor, Chief Willie Obiano.

However, under the present administration, the commission which ought to ensure strict implementation of the Disability Right Law, is dormant thereby affecting the overall activities of the disability community in the state.

But addressing journalists in Awka, Anambra JONAPWD Chairman, Comrade Ugochukwu Okeke said the disability community desires employment of its members in the state civil service as well as improved welfare of its members in Anambra State.

He noted that the essence of the anniversary was to draw the attention of the public, government and major stakeholders and remind them of the conditions affecting the disability community and the need to protect the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the state.

While commending the state government’s enactment of the Disabilities rights law, Comrade Okeke said it has paved the way for the elevation of the PWDs’ interests in the state.

“A major lacuna in the law is contained in Section 6 (1) as it relates to the tenure of office and remuneration of members, states that chairman and other members shall be appointed to serve on part-time basis. This provision seems to make the commission not to function as expected and we are therefore pleading with His Excellency to consider making an least the Executive Chairman/ CEO of the commission a full-time member.

“Only less than one percent of the 100 churches and 100 Town Halls sampled from different communities in Anambra state were not accessible to persons with disabilities and non persons with disabilities, even marriages between persons with disabilities and non persons with disabilities was like a taboo as people continued to discriminate against them especially the women in our group”.

Comrade Okeke said the law provides a platform for the disabilities community to enjoy their rights which has come through the construction of mobile ramps in various parts of the state, the appointment of a Disability Desk Officer at the National Human Rights Commission, support from Faith-based Organisations and Civil Societies Organisations to adapt access to PWDs, as well as the increased employment opportunities in various levels of government, among others.

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He decried that despite the existence of the Law, Persons with Disabilities are still marginalized in the state, adding that the continued negative and lackadaisical attitude of the public toward PWDs, lack of sign language teachers, inaccessible roads, marriage discrimination, and poor attitude of government functionaries towards JONAPWD members in the state.

Okeke appealed for government intervention by way of providing social protection programs, housing schemes, scholarships, and free health care for the disabled community. He further called for the construction of ramps at the utility hall of Prof. Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square as well as providing the needed mobility aid allowance and special skill acquisition programs for the PWDs.

While fielding questions from newsmen, Okeke appealed that PWDs should be given opportunity to represent society at least at the ward level.

“We have to mobilize our members to take proactive steps to vote in the coming elections. We believe this will resolve certain issues regards active participation in politics,” he said.

In a remark, NSCDC, Desk Officer, ASC1, Amaka Anadumaka, said the agency has the duty to protect the rights of PWDs and admonished the JONAPWD leadership in Anambra to exercise continuous effort to notify the security agency of any threat to its members.

Also, Amobi Nwagu, in a vote of thanks appealed for the intervention of the media to ensure the widespread of the affairs of the PWDs.

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