By Jude Michael
The Anambra State Disability Rights Commission (ANSDRC),
last Saturday, 2nd December, through the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), Anambra State Chapter, celebrated the 2023 International Day of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Awka, the Anambra State Capital.
Addressing the gathering, the ANSDRC Chairman, Barrister Chukwuka Ezewuzie, warned the citizenry against using PWDs to extort or amass wealth by any means.
Ezewuzie, who explained that the PWD’s were only asking for inclusion and equal rights as stipulated by the Anambra State Disability Rights Law, 2018, and other national and international legislations, argued that they were not beggars nor objects of caricature.
‘We are happy over the occasion. The United Nations instituted this day because they know we are sick and tired of people not allowing us to plan for ourselves. The UN know we wear the shoes and know how and where they pinch. We want inclusion. We want to take care of ourselves.
‘We are not against the government, any individual or society. We want equal opportunities to live and relate well in society. Let no one use the disabled people to make money under any guise. We are solidly behind the government of Anambra State. We support the Solution Agenda with the hope that things will get better,’ he noted.
For his part, the JONAPWD Anambra State Chapter Chairman, Comrade Ugochukwu Okeke, while commending the UN for the theme of the 2023 International Day for PWDs which is ‘’United in Action to rescue and achieve the SDGs with and by persons with disabilities’’, explained that it was a wake-up call for urgent support and empowerment of PWDs to achieve the sustainable development goals.
‘United actions are needed to address the specific targets and indicators related to disability within the SDGs Goals 4, 8, 10, 11 and 17. The inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities should be mainstreamed across all sectors and policies. This includes measures to promote accessibility, non-discrimination, and equal opportunities. Efforts should also be made to raise awareness, challenge societal attitudes and stereotypes, and promote the rights of persons with disabilities,’ he added.
He however said the association narrowed down the 2023 theme in Anambra State under a sub-theme, ‘’Breaking barriers; accessible technology and digital inclusion’’, in support of Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s effort to make the state livable and prosperous.
‘We still have a long way to go in terms of breaking down barriers and creating technology that is accessible and inclusive for everyone. We want to use this opportunity to draw attention to new barriers technology has created for PDWs and the need to embrace digital inclusion which means creating technology that is designed to be accessible to everyone, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities,’ he submitted.
Okeke also advocated for employment of his members who are qualified to teach in schools across all schools rather than deploying or posting them only to special schools.
‘We also want to draw the attention of the government to the challenges facing Basden Special Schools, Isulo. It will also be nice if government will collect and use its aggregate data on disability to form policy making, track progress, and ensure accountability. This will include conducting regular disability surveys, incorporating disability related indicators into state monitoring frameworks, and involving PWDs in data collection processes,’ he further maintained.
The event which started with a roadshow show from Awka to Amawbia and back to Awka, was aimed at increasing awareness campaign on Disability Rights Law, need for inclusion and respect to their needs and rights by all members of society.
They also used the occasion to honour some individuals and personalities in Anambra State who did not only support their cause but also ensured that their households, members and entire society were disability friendly by implementing the 2018 Disability Rights Law as concerned their institutions.
They are the Anglican Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Most Rev. Ndubuisi Obi; Fred Agbata of Anambra State ICT Agency; Simeon Onyemaechi, the MD/CEO, Anambra State Health Insurance Agency (ASHIA); the Commissioner for Budget Planning, Mrs Chiamaka Nnake; and Igwe Moughalu Christopher of Isuofia, Aguata Local Government Area.