In a recent 2-day training workshop on Rights-Based Advocacy for Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH)/Disability Rights Advocates in Kwara State, held at the Peace Hotel in Ilorin, crucial issues concerning accessibility and discrimination against persons with disabilities were brought to the forefront. The capacity building workshop is part of the activities mapped out in commemoration of the 2-Year Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Project being funded by AMPLIFYCHANGE, a UK based organization.

The event, organized by the Voice of Disability Initiative (VDI) in collaboration with the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD Kwara State Chapter), was attended by 30 advocates alongside notable figures like Professor Wahab Egbewole, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, who was represented by Prof. Azubuike, Chief Mrs Afolashade Opeyemi Olwakemi, Honourable Commissioner for Ministry of Social Development, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr Ayanwale Peter Kayode, the Hon. Commissioner for Education and Human Capital Development, Hajia Sa’adatu Modibbo-Kawu, Special Assistant to the Kwara State Governor on Education, Dr. Adetola Ariyike Salau; representative of the Hon. Commissioner for Justice, Barr. Balogun F. F; O/C Gender (Nigerian Police), Lerawon Alice O. amongst others.

During the workshop, participants lauded the Kwara State Government’s strides in enacting Disability Rights Law in 2017. However, they also highlighted critical gaps, including the absence of a Disability Commission and insufficient provisions such as Disability Support Desks and Sign Language Interpreters in healthcare facilities. These deficiencies hinder persons with disabilities, especially the deaf, blind, and physically challenged, from accessing essential healthcare services.

In her remark, Hajia Sa’adatu Modibbo-Kawu, reiterated the commitment of the Kwara State Governor, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq to the wellbeing of Persons with Disabilities. According to her, Mall AbdulRahman recently revamped two girls hostel and two boys hostels at the Kwara State School for special Needs, Ilorin, amongst many other projects. The governor has additionally approved the renovation of all other hostels in the school. This according to her is a testament of the importance Kwara State places on PWDs.

Speaking on behalf of the Honourable Commissioner for Ministry of Social Development, Mr Ayanwale Peter Kayode, also assured VDI of the ministry of Social Development’s readiness and support to see that the Disability Commission becomes a reality.

Testifying of the Governors dedication to PWDs’ welfare, the Permanent Secretary said: “for the first time in the history of Kwara State and Nigeria as a whole, three persons with disabilities are being appointed as cabinet members of Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, myself being of one of the three. It has never happened before. With this, you will belief and agree with me that our governor takes so much delight in honoring PWDs”.

Recounting challenges faced by PWDs, one of the poignant testimonies came from Mrs. Dagbo Hasiyat Taiye, a participant who is deaf and dumb, highlighting the challenges faced in healthcare due to the absence of interpreters. Her plight underscores the broader issue of accessibility for PWDs, not just in healthcare but in various facets of life.

Comrade Yusuf Bashir, JONAPWD Chairman (Kwara State)

Consequently, The Executive Director of VDI, Barr. Catherine Edeh, while acknowledging Kwara State’s progressive step in enacting the Disability Rights Law in 2017, expressed concerns over the absence of a Disability Commission. Edeh emphasized the urgent need for the establishment of such a commission to oversee PWDs’ affairs, along with setting up Disability Support Desks and engaging Sign Language Interpreters in government healthcare facilities.

This call for action resonated across the workshop’s participants, who urged Governor Mallam AbdulRahmam AbdulRazaq to expedite these measures. They stressed the significance of inclusivity, citing the challenges faced by PWDs in accessing essential services like healthcare and even forming personal relationships.

The workshop not only highlighted the advocacy gaps but also served as a platform to push for tangible changes that can enhance the quality of life for PWDs in Kwara State. As stakeholders and advocates unite in their demands, the spotlight remains on the state government to ensure that no one is left behind in the pursuit of rights and inclusivity.

Implications of Establishing Disability Law:

  1. Improved Healthcare Access: The presence of Disability Support Desks and Sign Language Interpreters in healthcare facilities will enhance access to essential healthcare services for PWDs, addressing longstanding challenges like those faced by Mrs. Dagbo Hasiyat Taiye and others.
  2. Inclusivity in Governance: Establishing a Disability Commission will not only oversee PWDs’ affairs but also ensure their representation and active participation in decision-making processes, fostering a more inclusive governance structure.
  3. Social Integration: By addressing issues such as difficulty in finding life partners due to societal stigmas, the establishment of supportive frameworks can promote social integration and acceptance of PWDs, breaking down barriers to personal relationships and societal inclusion.
  4. Legal Enforcement: Enforcing key provisions of the Disability Rights Law and establishing complementary structures like the Disability Commission and Support Desks will strengthen the legal framework for protecting PWDs’ rights, setting a precedent for other regions to follow suit.

This comprehensive approach to disability advocacy and rights enforcement not only benefits PWDs directly but also contributes to building a more equitable and inclusive society in Kwara State.

By admin

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