2023: JONAPWD decries non inclusion by parties, candidates
By: Femi Mustapha
National President, Joint National Association for Persons with Disabilities, (JONAPWD), Abdullaihi Kebbi, has expressed dissatisfaction over the lack of consideration for People With Disabilities, (PWDs) by political parties and their candidates.
He disclosed this in an interview with The Punch newspaper, saying JONAPWD is not satisfied with the way candidates and political parties have been treating them.
Kebbi insist that the manifestos released by candidates some of his members cannot understand, pointing out that some political parties, with their actions, do not think the PWDs exist.
“This is despite our large number. We have nothing less than 25 million members live in Nigeria. Have you seen any presidential candidate who has written his manifesto in braille for the understanding of people in the blind community? They are just deceiving us by appointing leaders for PwDs at the various parties,” he said.
According to him, no presidential or governorship rallies have the presence of sign language interpreters for the benefits of his members, wondering, “Is it because they cannot afford to hire one, or because they have a general disregard for people with disabilities?”
He also noted that political parties and candidates’ campaign materials were not accessible to their people. “I am yet to come across any campaign materials that someone with multiple disabilities can access. Even now, not all the campaign venues are accessible to our people,” he added.
The JONAPWD president, however, noted that although some political parties, included PWDs in their various campaign committees, yet it has had no effect, adding that they have been deceived.
“What many candidates did was just use our representatives in the campaign committee to tick the box. By this, I mean that they did this so that they would be seen as doing it. Personally, I am not satisfied, and the feel is the same with our members.
“Many of our members who are on these committees are not being carried along with the scheme of things. We have observed that those on the committee were given no role, and many of them do not know the happenings there.”
According to him, the effect of this is that there will be a low turnout of persons with disabilities despite having their Permanent Voter Cards, if these issues are not quickly addressed.
“As president, I am not a member of any political party, hence I can’t tell our people what party A or B will do if elected. We have been trying to meet some of the parties to make them understand the issue on the ground. When they sell themselves to Nigerians, they should do it in a way that people in our community can key into their messages.
Speaking on JONAPWD’s demands from the presidential candidates, Kebbi, said to gain the support of his community, any candidates must guarantee that the Discrimination Against PwDs Act President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law in 2018 and even established a Commission would be implemented in its entirety across the country.
On measures put in place by the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) to ensure seamless participation in the upcoming elections by his community, Kebbi, commended the electoral Umpire, saying it has done far better than many of the political parties to ensure their people come out en mass to exercise their franchise.
“We have been with them, and they have promised that the polling units would be accessible to PwDs. They also promised to assist people who are partially sighted magnifying glasses so that they can use them to see who they are going to vote for.
“INEC also promised that in each polling unit, they were going to provide a sign language interpreter. We hope they will do all these things they have said, even if they cannot deliver on them all. Let them do a substantial part of them, and we’ll still be happy with them,” he said.