PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE STATE OF AFFAIRS OF NIGERIANS WITH DISABILITIES BY THE JOINT NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES (JONAPWD)

DATE: THURSDAY 22, JUNE 2023
LOCATION: ABUJA, FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY 

All protocols duly observed.

PREAMBLES

With great expectations, we the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), being the umbrella body of all Organizations and Association of Persons with Disabilities felicitates with His Excellency, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as the newly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Antecedently, we extend our unreserved appreciation to the All-Progressive Congress (APC), and particularly to the outgoing administration under former President Muhammadu Buhari for activating right-based agendas by signing the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act into law, and the subsequent establishment of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD).

ABOUT JONAPWD

The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) is the umbrella Organization of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) in Nigeria. We largely exist as a civil coalition of organizations which brings together the key umbrella OPDs in Nigeria. In similar vein, we facilitate all development actions of Organizations for Persons with Disabilities (OfPDs) and other enablers of disability rights and programmes in Nigeria. We are a full-fledged member of the Disabled People’s International (DPI), the West Africa Federation of the Disabled (WAFOD) and a permanent member of the Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum (CDPF).
We are also a member of Rehabilitation International and the International Disability Alliance (IDA), a global network working to empower persons with disabilities and provide sustainable solutions for a more inclusive society.

JONAPWD is on the board of the African Disability Forum (ADF), composed of broad representatives which bring together continental, sub-regional and national organizations of persons with and without disabilities in Nigeria, including the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (NCSSR).
With supports from our strategic partners, JONAPWD has made tremendous facilitations in various sectors. Since 1992, our multi-dimensional approaches are broadly premised on coordinating a unified coalition(s) geared towards ensuring that the rights, inclusion and access for persons with disabilities are enhanced and sustained. Since the advent of democratic governance in Nigeria, JONAPWD’s key priorities have been to lead and facilitate strategic interventions that are enshrined within the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which the country ratified in 2007 and operationalized its Optional Protocol in 2010. Against the above background, JONAPWD stimulated nationwide actions geared towards the enactment of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, of 2018 in Nigeria; This law has inspired nationwide affiliations which are aimed to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of persons with disabilities. As a leveraging point, Nigeria and all civic actors currently run right-based interventions for all persons with disabilities across their demographics and diversities based on the passage of the Disability Law, UNCRPD and the recently signed African Disability Protocol (ADP).

THE ISSUES

As the largest minority group in Nigeria, we respectfully table the following strategic representation and socio-economic issues:

1. The National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD):
Since its establishment, The National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) under the leadership of Mr. James David Lalu has recorded noticeable feats even though it has been grossly under-resourced. Although the NCPWD represents one of the fulfilments of Federal Government’s commitments on social inclusions, the rights and privileges of persons with disabilities are still not given the required appropriateness. In specific terms, the NCPWD has not been given adequate resources (financial and technical) which are needed to translate government services and actions into systems that equally and meaningfully drive the representation and participation of Nigerians with Disabilities, particularly in all procedures and processes around designs, implementation, budgeting, enforcement and monitoring.
With the closing of the five (5) year moratorium, JONAPWD wishes to categorically urge the new administration to consider the operations of the NCPWD under the office of the President, particularly with continuation of Mr. James David Lalu as the Executive Secretary of the Commission, which we advocated for. Achieving this will definitely serve to sustain multi-sectoral correspondences for addressing the systemic barriers militating against persons with disabilities in Nigeria.

2. National Appointments:
In assessing section 29 of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018, which provide a reserved percentage of five percent (5%) employment opportunities for persons with disabilities, the rights of Nigerians with Disabilities, who are eligible and sufficiently qualified to work, has not been met with the required fulfillment thresholds. Worrisomely, the illrepresentation of persons with disabilities in leadership and governance has continued to foster disability non-responsive policies and programmes at all government levels. This reality has reinforced the scaling of persons with disabilities in the board sample of Nigerians with poorer well-being, coupled with reduced access to services related to health, work, rehabilitation, education, government social welfare, humanitarian responses and many others.
By representation and demography, JONAPWD estimates a population of over Thirty-One (31) million Nigerians with Disabilities across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Amongst these Nigerians are professionals with disabilities with relevant certifications and professionalisms in different fields and endeavors. With excellent experiences, creativity and innovations, JONAPWD interacts with a qualitative pool of professionals with verifiable and commendable performance index across all the sectors; These professionals are available to lead and support at national, regional and international levels. Without any gainsaying, having them in elective and appointive positions will immediately assist in mainstreaming disability inclusion in the Nigerian development agenda, including the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other internationally agreed development goals.
Consequently, and as a matter of an appeal for fundamental rights, JONAPWD respectfully call on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to implement this section of the law by appointing persons with disabilities as Special Adviser(s) to the President and at least three (3) persons with disabilities as Federal Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. By this means, the new administration will continue to build and expand inclusive systems and societies where persons with and without disabilities can equally and meaningfully enjoy leadership and economic rights without making anyone worse off.

3. Subsidy Removal:
With deep concerns, the recent move by the Federal Government to immediately discontinue fuel subsidies has exacerbated socioeconomic outcomes for persons with disabilities, especially those in rural areas. While the intention behind the removal may be to support the activation of the Nigerian economic recoveries, it is essential to consider the potential drawbacks of such a move on the lives of persons with disabilities.
We recognize and respect the pulse of all Nigerians, nevertheless, persons with disabilities largely remain the worst hit. On current statistical scaling, persons with disabilities are amongst the largest groups in the 130 million Nigerians who are recently broadcasted as multi-dimensionally poor. Yet, Nigerians with Disabilities are being hit from all sides by unhealthy realities that are making their lives increasingly difficult.
As the Federal Government is expected to design measures to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal on the poor and vulnerable Nigerians, JONAPWD urge on the following on behalf of all persons with disabilities in Nigeria:
Access to the existing and proposed social protection programmes must comprehensively capture the varying needs of all persons with disabilities, with keen focus on women and children with disabilities. The Federal government in designing any palliative measures should take into consideration added vulnerabilities that stem from the historical social exclusion. This implies also developing specific schemes that explicitly promote social inclusion while also providing the required additional support to under -represented groups within the movement such as persons with deaf-blindness and others.
An immediate dialogue between stakeholders and meaningful participation of employers, trade union and other civil society groups representative of the diversity of Nigerians including marginalized groups such as organizations of persons with disabilities.

4. Coordinating Body for Persons with Disabilities in Nigeria:
As a matter of emphasis, JONAPWD is the only recognized national umbrella body of all organizations/association of persons with disabilities and remains the focal organization for global references from Nigeria on progress of the Country in relation to commitments on disability rights.
Being the federation of the persons with disabilities across the 774 local government areas, we are realigning towards strengthening the capacities of our key stakeholders to largely coordinate and advance needed social interventions for persons with disabilities in the country. Furthermore, we have designed approaches to improve limited actions on strategic direction, especially to coordinate grassroots movement and demand socio-political compliance from duty bearers across the 36 states in relations to the legal provisions.
As aforementioned, JONAPWD has been providing representation, information, advocacy and training, including serving as clearing house to address complains for Nigerians with disabilities since 1992. Our strategic relevance is recorded at sub-regional, regional and international fora.
In light of the above, we call on the current government, under the leadership of President Asiwaju
Bola Ahmed Tinubu to leverage on the extensive network of JONAPWD when engaging with Nigerians with disabilities in the spirit of ” NOTHING FOR US WITH OUT US “. We equally call on all individuals, corporate entities and the government to not hesitate to reach out to JONAPWD when the need arises. By human right standards, disability-inclusive leadership begins with consultation with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations; Not only is it practical to know and understand our experiences, but it is also human-right enabling.

CONCLUSIONS 

As JONAPWD, we will continue to genuinely seek to collaborate with government and strategic partners who promote the rights and wellbeing of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, while positioning to increase awareness on disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural lives in Nigeria.
As the unifying umbrella of the movement of people with disabilities in the country, we uphold the hope and believe that the current administration, under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will strongly enable and institute a national rebirth with total social cohesion among all demography regardless of tribe, disability or ethnicity. Correspondently, JONAPWD will equally continue to serve to complement disability-sensitive guidance on measures to be taken in implementing provisions in all national and global disability responsive instruments, while also stimulating the assessment of disability-sensitive frameworks using inclusive, accessible and sustainable spectra.
As a matter of urgency, we urge the Executive Secretary, Mr. James David Lalu of the NCPWD to facilitate a meeting between JONAPWD and His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu within the next two weeks. This meeting will carry the prime objective to robustly articulate expectations from the government as persons with disabilities while also agreeing on a mutually beneficial “Charter of Demand”.
On behalf of all persons with disabilities, we restate our continued support to the Federal Government of Nigeria in its quest to fulfil fundamental realization of rights for all.
Thank you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Signed on Behalf of Board and Management:
Abdullahi Usman Aliyu – National President – JONAPWD

Abdulwahab Matepo – National President – Spinal Cord Injuries Association of Nigeria (SCAIN)

Bisi Bamishe – National President – Albinism Association of Nigeria (AAN)

Stanley Onyebuchi – Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB)

Iorkighir Peter Terver – National President – The International Association for Integration, Dignity and Economic Advancement (IDEA)

Ridwan Abdullahi- National President – National Association of Persons with Physical Disabilities (NAPPD)

Chidi Oluje – National President – National Association of the Deaf (NAD)

Joko Omotola – National President – People with Intellectual and Psychosocial

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