A passionate appeal was made yesterday to President Goodluck Jonathan asking him to urgently sign into law the bill recognising people with disabilities (PWDs), estimated to be about 15 million in the country.
The appeal was made by The Strategic Team (TST)-a national political think-tank-when it hosted people with disabilities in Abuja at a forum tagged: ‘Sharing and Caring’.
Director General of the group, Daniel Ohiomoba, said the bill which was passed by the Senate in March, this year, requires the President’s urgent consideration and assent to give hope and sense of belonging to the disable.
“We ask the president to extend the transformation programme to recognise and protect the interests of people living with disabilities.
“The TST hereby calls on President Jonathan to sign the bill into law promptly; establish a commission that will solely be responsible for all matters relating to the disable and also ensure that they are appointed to its management board.
“We also suggest that a data base of these special people access to free medical treatment, health insurance, special schools, educational aids and materials for them and their children henceforth be given top priority at every level of government,” he said at the National Women Centre, Abuja.
Ohiomoba also said: “We believe that this gesture will go a long way to accord PWDs equity, dignity and equal opportunity in contributing their efforts in propelling Nigeria to greater heights, as it is done in other civilised countries.
“They will be carried along in the political and economic restructuring going on in the country as their constructive and meaningful input shall go a long way in contributing to the continued growth and development of this great nation. The time is ripe to act decisively.”
He noted that PWDs estimated to be about 15 million in Nigeria, had in the past been rejected and relegated to the background, sidelined and discriminated against.
“These fellow countrymen, women and children are disabled by sheer providence or by accidents. They are daily confronted with several challenges including marginalisation in form of disregard and discrimination on the basis of their infirmity,” he emphasised.
Ohiomoba said the group, which also wanted President Jonathan to declare his interest in next year’s election, is glad that the federal government has recognised the need to give succour and hope to the less privileged Nigerians.
“Now, some recognition has been given to this vulnerable group of people who have continually received support from the present administration,” he said.