Inclusion: PWDs demand 10 per cent membership in Tinubu’s cabinet

Fri, May 19, 2023
By editor

Health Briefs

PERSON With Disabilities (PWDs), have demanded that members of its community should make up at least 10 per cent of President-Elect Sen. Bola Tinubu’s cabinet.

They made the demand on Thursday in Abuja, at a stakeholders’ strategic roundtable on its ‘Able To Serve’ campaign.

The discussion has “Disability Inclusion in the Appointment of Cabinet Members: A Call for Inclusive Governance” as its theme.

Mr Chike Okogwu, Founder, Center for Ability, Rehabilitation and Empowerment, said that it is the right of PWDs to demand for inclusivity in governance.

“There is an Act prohibiting discrimination against the rights of persons with disabilities.

“It says at least 5 per cent of persons with disabilities should be given employment, as you are employing your ministers. Sir, it says 5 per cent minimum but we are saying we want 10 per cent.

“So four of your constitutionally recognised ministers one per state, including the FCT, gives you 3.7 persons, so four persons in your cabinet must be PWDs, two men and two women.“

According to him, appointing PWDs would ensure that the government captures 15 per cent of its lost Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

This, he said, was because, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 15 per cent of Nigeria’s population was made up of PWDs.

He, however, said that he was sure that PWDs would perform excellently if appointed as ministers and that the effect would also be felt in the other tiers of government as state governors and others in governance positions would begin to appoint them.

“Take me for example, I’m only fiscally impaired, I’m not disabled in any manner and there are lots of us like that.

“So we are bringing capacity, competence, courage and everything that makes us excel.

“You are giving us as a matter of right, but do not look at us only from the prism of disabilities, look beyond what we represent.

“A lot of us are well educated, a lot of us are intellectuals, we have what it takes to do what you want,” he added.

Okogwu said he was confident that Tinubu would do the right thing for them because as Governor of Lagos State, he pushed for the rights of PWDs that led to the setting up of the Lagos State Office of Disability Affairs (LASODA).

Mr Jake Epelle, Founder, The Albino Foundation (TAF) Africa and Convener, Disability Inclusion, Nigeria, said that “Able to Serve” is a gathering of PWDs that want the whole nation, especially the incoming administration, to hear their voices.

He said that they want the incoming administration to know that they are qualified for any and every elected office.

“The president-elect should take the bull by the horns and appoint PWDs as ministers, elected governors too should appoint PWDs as commissioners.

“Yes, we are grateful that in the past we have been appointed as special assistants and some other heads of establishments, but we need to go a notch higher.

“Who says we cannot be ministers. Let them appoint a PWDs as minister, hold me responsible, and we will make sure that that person will perform.

“We may be disabled in our physical body, but we have the ability in our brain,” he added.

Epelle also said that if PWDs are appointed as cabinet members, they would have a sense of belonging, which is what an inclusive governance is all about.

“If you take us out of governance, what you are going to run is an exclusive government and exclusive government is not a government of national unity.

“If you truly want to run a government of national unity, then that government should be inclusive of all irrespective of gender, status, religion, whatever that needs to be done so that everyone will sit on the table, which is the way forward.”

Epelle also said that PWDs play a role in national development as they also contribute to the nations GDP through payment of taxes.

He also said that the objective of the strategic roundtable was to raise awareness about the importance of appointing PWDs to national and sub-national cabinet levels.

He added that the aim was to highlight the immense potentials, skills and perspectives that individuals with disabilities bring to the decision-making process in government, and push for the appointment of persons with disabilities.

Epelle also said that the ‘Able to Serve’ for PWDs which was inaugurated by the foundation leverages on media advocacy, mentorship and accountability to ensure that they are included in the governance process of the nation. (NAN)