PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES AND 2023 ELECTIONS

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The declarations to run for president by the All Progressives Congress (APC) leader Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo are not comprehensive enough. This is on the basis that both declarations did not mention or state categorically what they plan to do for persons with disabilities (PWD) and vulnerable persons in Nigeria.

It is sad that in a country like Nigeria with about 30 million PWDs as estimated by the world Health Organization, presidential aspirants do not care a hoot about this huge numbers that can win an election any day. And by the time you add family members, friends and relatives of these PWDs, it is clear and evident that persons with disabilities have the power to control the outcome of an election.

Be that as it may, persons with disabilities participating in politics have made it clear, far before now, that only those who support the cause of persons with disabilities will be supported and therefore, the declarations by the two APC leaders are dead on arrival. In the past six years of APC leadership, Nigeria has witnessed a huge increase in the numbers of persons with disabilities as a result of motor accidents from bad roads, mental disability from bad economic policies leading to high rate of suicides and ritual murders, injuries from insurgency by women, children and soldiers; economic deprivation of Nigerians by the weaponization of poverty and a whole lot of other things.

Anybody running for president henceforth in Nigeria must have a clear-cut plan of how to cater for PWD and the vulnerable in our society. It is a shame to note that in the 120-page document released by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that not one single word on disability was mentioned. Discrimination against persons with disabilities (prohibition) Act signed by President Muhammadu Buhari three years ago is still lying in the shelf gathering dust. There is no impact whatsoever. If the content of that act is not visibly articulated in a 120-page document by the vice-president and the leader of the APC both preparing to run for president in their declarations, it speaks volumes and should tell Nigerians and persons with disabilities not to expect anything from them. Any action now is an afterthought.

Persons with disabilities cannot be sidelined anymore. We are saying enough is enough and are mobilising to use this 2023 general elections and the two elections before them to show that the days of neglecting persons with disabilities are over.

Dr. Chike Okogwu,

ADC Dep. Nat. Chairman, Strategy, Innovative and Disabilities_