General Election: CCD calls for balanced reportage of disability issues

 THE Center for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), has called on the media to ensure balanced reportage of disability related issues before, during and after the 2023 General Election.

Mr David Anyaele, CCD, Executive Director, said this on Wednesday in Abuja at a 3-day forum to commemorate the 4th anniversary of the passage of the National Disability Law.

The forum organised by CCD was themed: 2023 General Election and Beyond: Creating the future we desired for citizens with disabilities.

Anyaele said that there was need for the media to mainstream disability issues in order to ensure proper planning for the inclusion of PWDs in the electoral process by electoral umpires.

“We sent out letters for this event to the Ministry of Information, the National Orientation Agency (NOA), National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Radio Nigeria, Voice of Nigeria (VON) and the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

“We believe these are the organisations responsible for mainstreaming disability issues and creating awareness on the laws and its contents.

“And they play vital roles in ensuring that Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) have a voice in the society.

“So, we are urging them to create a balanced report that captures the plights of PWDs in past elections and ways that we have recommended that will ensure total inclusion,’’ he said.

The ED said that the 2023 election was another opportunity for Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to showcase measures put in place to ensure internationally accepted standards of inclusion for PWDs.

Anyaele urged INEC and other stakeholders to ensure the step down of knowledge on the different disability friendly electoral materials and their usage.

Hajiya Fatima Abbass-Hassan, General Manager, NTA, lauded the initiative of the organization to create an enlightenment and experience sharing platform in order to enhance total inclusion of PWDs in the 2023 general election.

Abbass-Hassan advised various disability organisations to take advantage of NTA special discount in order to cut the cost of airing their various commercial disability contents.

“NTA over the years has worked and is still working to ensure that commercial news does not outweigh news of special interests.

“We must understand that NTA is a remitting agency to government and we have various categories of news contents.

“However you can take advantage of special discounts and I will like to invite two or three persons from CCD to join us in our Good Morning Nigeria programme tomorrow.

“Let me restate that NTA is delivering on its mandates in mainstreaming disability issues, we believe there is ability in disabilities and that is why we have staffs that are PWDs.

“The head of ICT is a person with disability and we have made deliberate efforts to readjust our facilities to ensure the ease of access for our staff and visitors with disabilities,” she said.

She urged CCD to give adequate notice of invitation of its event in order for representative of the organisations to attend and contribute meaningfully to discussions centered on enhancing the lives of PWDs.

Mr Olugbenga Ogunmefun, Director, Africa Polling Institute (API), urged the disability community to remain united in the pursuit of its mandates for the implementation of the contents and provisions of the National Disability Act.

He said that although each disability organisation had its own unique mandate, there was  need to remain united in a universal purpose.

“This purpose is the achievements of the implementation and execution of the provisions of the law and a house divided against its self as we know will not stand.

“So where there is unity the progress in the disability community, the expected results of any advocacy would be more measurable, ’’he said.

Mr Bature Abubakar, the Technical Adviser to the Executive Secretary of the Federal Capital Development Agency (FCDA), reiterated the commitment of the FCDA to make Abuja an inclusive city.

Abubakar said that as a person with disability, he understood the plights and struggles of PWDs and was constantly advocating for the implementation of the law in the FCT.

“By the end of the first quarter of this year, we would have completed our assessment on access to all the infrastructures in all the secretariats in the FCT.

“The result of the assessment would guide us in making policies and plans to ensure access to infrastructure at the various secretariats in the councils, ’’he said.

Mr Danladi Plang, Programme Manager, Rule of Law and Anti-corruption Programme (ROLAC), lauded the focus of the discussion which was centered on awareness creation on the existing disability law and the disability commission.

Plange said that the commission must rise to its mandates and become accountable to the disability community across the country.

Mr Theophilus Odauda, Programme Officer at Disability Rights Fund (DRF), said that not much had been done in compliance to the National disability act which called for concerns.

He, however, urged the disability community across the country not to relent in ensuring that the disability law was translated beyond paper into action.(NAN)