The Abia State House of Assembly on Wednesday passed the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities bill into law.
The Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, Chinedum Orji, while making the announcement during the plenary, said the law would be cited as “The Abia State Commission for Disabled Persons Law.”Orji congratulated his colleagues and said that the 7th Assembly was committed to promoting people-oriented bills.
He announced that the bill, upon being assented to by the Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, should be deemed to have come into force on Aug. 31, 2022.The sponsor of the bill and Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Paul Taribo, described it was a landmark bill that would go along way in placing the destiny of persons with disabilities in their hands.
Taribo, who is representing Ukwa East, expressed gratitude to the Speaker and other members of the House for their efforts in ensuring the passage.
“I’m confident that it will soon be assented to by the governor and implemented, in order to give persons with disabilities a sense of belonging”.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), Mr David Anyaele, who had been be fighting for the welfare of persons with disabilities, applauded the lawmakers for the passage.
Anyaele described the passage as a strong demonstration by the lawmakers that all lives are precious, in particular the lives of residents with disabilities.
He stated: “Persons with disabilities in Abia State are the most excluded in governance at the subnational level in Nigeria due to absence of legal framework for the protection of the rights and dignity.
“With the passage of this bill, the end of exclusion of Abia residents with disabilities in governance by state and none state actors is coming to an end.
” He called on the Clerk, Mr Pedro Irokansi, to speedily clean up the bill for onward transmission to the governor for his assent.
Anyaele equally urged the governor not to hesitate to sign the bill into law, “as his wife has committed so much to get this bill passed.
”The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the bill had suffered setbacks as it was earlier passed by the 5th Assembly but was not assented to by Ikpeazu.
It was again brought back to the floor of the House during the 6th Assembly but it failed to scale through.
The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), has commended the Abia House of Assembly for the passage of the Disability Bill. Mr David Anyaele, Executive Director, CCD, said this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.
“I received with joy today the news of the passage of Abia State Disability Bill by Chinedu Orji led Abia House of Assembly.
“The passage of this bill is a strong demonstration by the house that all lives are precious, in particular the lives of Abians with disabilities.
“Especially as Persons with Disabilities in the state are the most excluded in governance at the subnational level in Nigeria,” he said.
Anyaele said that the presence of a legal framework for the protection of the rights and dignity of PWDs was a welcomed development in the state.
He said that with the passage of the bill, there would be an end to exclusion of Abia people with disabilities in governance by government and none state actors.
He called on the Clerk of the House to expedite action on the bill for onward transmission to Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu for his assent.
He also called on Ikpeazu not to hesitate in signing the bill into law, adding that his wife had made great commitment and contributions toward getting the bill passed.
“We thank Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu, wife of the Governor of Abia State for her solidarity with the disability community during this campaign for the passage of the bill.
“Nkechi addressed the House of Assembly on the July 15, 2021 on the need to pass the Disability Bill and today the house has done the needful,” he said.
Anyaele also appreciated the disability community in the state for the resilience, consistency and push in advocating and lobbying for the passage of the bill.
Persons With Disabilities have bemoaned their continued exclusion from government programmes, policies and activities, calling for urgent implementation of the National Disability Act to put things right.
The group made the call during a National Disability Dialogue organised in Lagos by the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) to brief relevant stakeholders on the successes, commitments, achievements, assessments and implementations of the National Disability Act. The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the event, ‘`One Day National Disability Dialogue’’, was put together by CCD with the support of Ford Foundation.
It had in attendance commissioners from across the states and a representative from the Federal Ministry of Justice.
Also, the executive and governing board of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, the General Manager of Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA), Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities from the six geopolitical zones, funding partners and other CSOs were in attendance.
Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of the CCD, Mr David Anyaele, said the inclusion of persons with disabilities in governments programmes, policies and activities was essential to their personal and social development.
“If we must say Nigeria is inclusive it must begin with the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“It must start from the state government, it must start from the private sector by removing all forms of barriers that hinder people with disabilities from participating in the society.
“What we have done or what we are doing today is to present to Nigerians the extent of the implementation of the National Disability Act. “We are sharing today a report that focuses on Nigeria, Our Disability, Assessment of Compliance and Implementation of the National Disability Law,’’ he said.
Anyaele added that certain barriers should be removed for the inclusion and acceptance of people with disabilities in the society to improve their standard of living, alleviate poverty and provision of equal opportunities.
“When we talk about barriers, barriers have to deal with areas where there are no access to public infrastructure building, no accessible toilet, no accessible stairs or accessible handrails or lift to take the person upstairs.
“There is a barrier already where individuals from our African perspective, their to attitude to persons with disabilities see such persons as not worthy to participate in the society,’’ Anyaele said.
“When government programmes, policies and activities do not track disability issues, people with disabilities will not be able to benefit and their poverty will continue to increase.
“These are the barriers that must be removed if we must say Nigeria is a society that promotes equal opportunity,’’ he added.
Also, Prof. Omololu Shoyombo, of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), in his report conducted in February 2022 on “Assessment of the Implementation and Compliance with the National Disability Act’’ showed that the level of knowledge and awareness about the National Disability Act is still relatively low.
Shoyombo is a Research Consultant for CCD.
In his research findings also, the level of compliance and implementation of the provision of the law was also very low.
“There is general need for more advocacy and understanding of the law.
The advocacy should extend to reach the rural areas and the law should be broken down into local dialects and languages for proper digestion by persons with Disabilities” He also recommended that the National Commission of Person with Disabilities (NCPWD) should be separated from the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs for more dedicated services for the needs of person with Disabilities.
“The National Commission for Persons with Disabilities should share its agenda, mission and vision with its primary constituency (PWDs) so that they can be aware of the activities of the national commission,’’ he highlighted.
Evaluating the report findings, a Professor of Law, Afeisimi Badaiki, said the level of awareness created by the Federal Ministry of Information was not satisfactory.
“Though the ministry of information is responsible for dissemination of information, its function is supposed to be accumulative in addition to the role of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities to ensure that people are aware of the existence of the law”.
He also called for the enforcement of the law “Members of the public should be able to institute some actions to enforce the right of persons with Disabilities as enriched in the law,” Badaiki said.
The Director-General, National Orientation Agency, Dr Garba Abari, has called for inclusion of the rights and needs of persons with disabilities (PWDs) into all policies and programmes to promote social inclusion.
Abari made this call at a one-day capacity building on the Roles of Stakeholders in the Implementation of the National Disability Act 2018 in Abuja on Tuesday.
The event was in partnership with the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CDD).
The director-general said that the National Disability Act 2018 was birthed as an intervention to the various unmet critical needs of PWDs in Nigeria.
According to him, the National Disability Act 2018 is a welcome development, as it is sufficiently robust to address most issues of persons with disabilities.
He said social inclusion for persons with disabilities included putting their needs as the country prepared for the general elections, policies and programmes and security of their lives amongst others.
“It is also in line with the SDGs of social inclusion.
I strongly believe that persons with disabilities have the capacity to contribute to national development.
“I urge Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and private sector to take a careful look at Disability Act, find our respective roles in the Act and come up with a deliberate implementation plan.
“These plans will help to meet disability needs in your policies, programmes and activities, our individual and collective commitment to this course is quite crucial.’’ The director-general restated the agency’s commitment toward promoting the vision of the CDD as a lead organisation advocating for disability rights.
He said NOA’s role of public enlightenment would be used to step up awareness creation to tiers of government and rural areas.
The Executive Director of CDD, Mr David Anyaele, called for the empowerment of persons with disabilities, saying all stakeholders must support the full implementation of the National Disability Act. He said it was saddening that discrimination still persisted through stigma, behaviours and practices amongst Nigerians to persons living with disabilities.
While commending President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the disability bill into law, noted the need for not leaving persons with disabilities behind in governance.
“Nigeria currently has 31 million persons with disabilities and 80 per cent of them are in rural areas; we commend those states that have passed the disability law also; it is impressive.
“We call for the removal of all barriers against persons with disabilities so as to allow access,’’ he said.
Dr Comfort Adeosun, representative, Office of the Civil Service of the Federation, said the disability rights law was being implemented by giving five per cent of all recruitments to persons with disabilities.
DSP Patrick Effiom, Disability Desk Officer, Nigeria Police Force, said the force had established disability desk offices in all police stations for persons with disabilities to access policing services.
Mr Kola Ogunbiyi, a keynote speaker, spoke about the National Disability Act, calling on all stakeholders to create awareness for all accessibility to all public places for persons with disabilities.
“We need all MDAs and other stakeholders to make amends to create access to all barriers limiting PWDs. “Even in hospitals, there is need for sign interpreters to be available, so that persons with disabilities will have access to health services.’’ Highlight of the event was the session with panelists emphasising need for ending all barriers and making life inclusive for persons with disabilities in all areas.
The Coalition of Disability Organisations has called on the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to ensure that airport facilities are made accessible to persons with disabilities (PWDs).
Mr David Anyaele, the Convener of the Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, made the call on Monday in Kano, when the group paid an advocacy visit to the Commissioner for Justice, Mr Musa Lawan.
Anyaele was represented by the outgoing Chairman of Spinal Cord Injuries Association of Nigeria, Kano State chapter, Mr Abdul Haruna.
He said that the call became necessary following the outcome of the group’s research on the challenges their members were facing at airports in the country.
“We are facing difficulty in boarding the aircraft, climbing the stairs of airport buildings due to the lack of or non-functional elevators and ramps.
“Communication barriers, absence of sign language interpreters, lack of Disability Desk at airports, lack of dedicated seats for PWDs, among others,” Anyaele said.
He said that the research came up with recommendations for the relevant authorities to take note of.
He further explained that the visit was meant to sensitise the relevant authorities on the need to change the narrative.
Responding, the commissioner expressed delight over the visit by the group.
He said: “People living with disabilities have been neglected seriously for long.
“We must work together with the relevant authorities to do the needful for the betterment of this category of people.” He assured the group of his support toward addressing the challenges faced by its members.
Lawan promised to send a memo to the governor on their demand in order to elicit the attention of the relevant agencies.
A member of the group, Abba Shehu, a deaf, who spoke through an interpreter, recalled how he missed his flight due to the lack of an interpreter at the airport.
The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) has advised the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA)to build the capacity of health workers in Nigeria to enhance compliance with the Disability Act.
Mrs Peace Ezekiel, CCD Programme Officer, said this at the closing of a training for 182 workers of NPHCDA in Abuja on sections, provisions and penalties of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities Prohibition Act, 2018.
Ezekiel said that since the NPHCDA played pivotal role in the health sector, its contributions toward enhancing healthcare for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) could not be over-emphasised.
She also appealed to NPHCDA to set an example for other healthcare agencies by putting in place PWDs friendly assistive devices to aid their access to its head office in Abuja.
Speaking, Mr David Anyaele, the Executive Director, CCD said that the training was to build the capacities of relevant health stakeholders on the contents of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities Act.
Anyaele, represented by Mr Humphrey Ukeaja, CCD Lead Researcher, said that the major challenge of health policy actors remained lack of awareness on the law and its provisions.
“Based on the findings from our 2021 assessment of access to COVID-19 vaccines for PWDs. “We discovered the challenges faced by social and health policy makers includes but not limited to lack of sufficient knowledge and scanty data of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
“Also poor knowledge on the rights, needs and other issues of critical concerns to PWDs especially with regards to the national disability act.
“We can attribute this to poor engagement by government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) responsible for creating awareness and sensitising the public on the national disability law and its provisions,” he said.
Anyaele added:“We believe this training and capacity building will help to support planning.
“It will also guide health service providers on their roles in providing and implementing proper health polices with reference to the law and for benefits of PWDs.” Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director, NPHCDA, applauded the initiative of the group to train and build capacity of NPHCDA staff on the provisions of the disability act in relation to health services providers.
Shuaib, represented by Mrs Nneka Onwu, a Deputy Director at the agency, said that the NPHCDA was ready to collaborate with stakeholders toward enhancing compliance to the law.
He promised to cascade the knowledge gained at the training to its member of staff nationwide.
Mr Nzemadu Aloysius, also aDeputy Director at the agency, urged CCD and other disability organisations not to relent in creating awareness and sensitising state actors and non-state actors on the act.
The Campaign for Equal Voting Access for Persons with Disabilities (EVAPWDs), has commended INEC for providing Brailles, Magnifying glasses and other devices for PWDs in the Osun governorship election.
Mr David Anyaele, Chairman of EVAPWD, made the commendation in a preliminary statement on Saturday in Abuja.
Anyaele also commended INEC for the priority-voting given to elderly, pregnant and nursing mothers and PWDs and the significant number of accessible polling units provided by INEC.
“We received and reviewed reports from our observers across the three senatorial zones of the election management compliance to the provisions of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act.
“Section 54 of the Electoral Act 2022 on INEC Framework on Access and Participation of Persons with Disabilities and the Nigeria Constitution 1999 as amended.
“EVAPWDs is impressed to observe that marginalised populations, the aged, nursing mothers and pregnant women and persons with disabilities were offered priority voting in most of the polling units observed.
“Our observation shows that INEC sited a significant number of PUs along the roadside and dropped the ballot boxes on the floor, whilst a good number of other PUs were sited in buildings with access for those on wheelchairs.
“”We commend polling officials for their efforts in this regard,” he said.
The groups chairman said that it observed the deployment of Braille guides, shade and magnifying glasses in a significant number of the PUs visited.
This, he said, was commendable as INEC had made observable improvement in this regard, however, he called for training of its ad-hoc staff on the use of form EC40H.
According to him, the form EC40H is readily available, but the knowledge of INEC ad-hoc staff around the use of this document remains weak, even as voting guides for the deaf in a significant number of the PUs were not seenHe expressed dissatisfaction also that quite a significant number of polling units were not accessible because they were sited across gutters or in schools with staircases and high pavements.
He said notably, PU 9, Ward 3 in Boripe LGA were not accessible for the physically challenged as they were too high and filled with steps and grasses.
“Also, in PU 4, Ward 10, Ede South LGA, PU 8, Ward 5, Ede South, PU 8, Ward 10 in Odo- Otin, and PU 5, Ward in Osogbo were sited across gutters.
“Also not accessible is PU 2, Ward 9, and its environs in Aiyedire LGA were sited across gutters or in schools with steps and high pavements.
“And what this means is that voters with physical disability will struggle much more to cast their votes,’ he said.
He commended the commission for the early arrival of its officials and lauded the good voter turnout at the various polling units it observed across the state.
He also lauded the adequately provided security at the polls and approachability of the security personnel.
Anyaele said the group was still observing the election exercise and would issue a post election statement, analyzing the general conduct of INEC for persons with disabilities’ participation.
Persons With Disabilities have emphasised the need for airports in Nigeria to have more facilities and assistive devices for persons with disabilities,
However, they noted that while there are limited assistive devices at airports in Nigeria for persons with physical disabilities including leg and spinal cord injured, there were absence of same for the visually-impaired, hearing-impaired and persons with albinism, among others.
A former Acting Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Omololu Soyombo, highlighted these while presenting a report on : “Accessibility of Nigerian Airports to Persons with Disability: Presentation of Assesment Result”.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the presentation was the outcome of a fieldwork of an empirical study conducted for the Coalition of Disability Organiations (CODO) from Dec. 10 to Dec. 21, 2021.
CODO, is an NGO, aimed at promoting inclusion, disability rights and mobilizations of persons with disabilities in areas critical to their survival.
The Coalition includes Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), Hope Alive for Possibilities Initiatives (HAPI) and the Spinal Cord Injuries Association of Nigerian (SCIAN), supported by Disability Rights Fund (DRF).
Making the presentation in Lagos, Soyombo, also a Professor of Sociology, said that in spite national and international provisions for the assurance of the rights of persons with disability, their plight was further compounded by societal attitude.
“ People with disabilities are generally known to be disadvantaged in the society, and consequently suffer many deprivations, discriminations and denial of their rights.
“One important, but often ignored or under-estimated area of life where the rights of people with disabilities are flagrantly abused is in accessing facilities and services for the purpose of air travel.
“ The access of PWDs to airports and airlines facilities should be assured. As citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Constitution guarantees protection against any form of discrimination.
“The promotion of the rights of PWDs also in line with Goal 10 of the Sustainable Development Goals, as adopted by the United Nations in 2015, to “promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.
“Despite Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation provisions and the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018 provisions, that airport and airline operators shall provide facilities at the airports to enhance the movement of persons with disabilities and also ensure that no passenger is discriminated against on the ground of disabilities, PWDs still suffer so much violation of their human rights.
“ Reports of denial of air travel completely, as well as humiliating and embarrassing to the needs of PWDs exit and PWDs are sometimes prevented from travelling by air. ‘’
According to him, the study shows that where they are allowed to travel by air, they are often subjected to degrading treatment when boarding and de-boarding aircrafts as a result of absence of assistive devices that could help them.
He listed some of factors affecting PWDs access to airports to include poor arrangements, institutional deficiencies, oversight, as well as human, material, logistic and infrastructural inadequacies.
“PWDs experienced difficulty in getting on the aircraft, difficulty in climbing the stairs into the airport building due to lack -functioning elevators and ramps,
“Communication barrier, absence of sign language communication, absence of a Disability Desk at the airport, poor direction in the airport for PWDs, denied boarding, and of care by other travellers.
“Having to walk long distance to board the aircraft, having to be carried physically which was embarrassing and absence of dedicated seat for PWDs.
“Also, workers not taking wheelchairs outside the airport hall for PWDs needing wheel chairs and lack of assistance by airport and airline staff”.
He noted that those who said they had no challenges talked about assistance given by staff, having their personal aides with them, as well as issues relating to differences in the nature and degree of physical disability.
Proffering solutions, Soyombo said that travel information at airports should be provided in accessible formats (e.g. large print, bold print, audio and visual, use of sign language interpreters, etc.) for various categories of PWDs.
This, he said, should be beyond the use of Public Address Systems for announcements, which a person with auditory impairment may not be able to decode.
“Announcements should be made in multiple formats – verbally and visually.
“ There should be provision for the inclusion of information at booking point for PWDs to indicate their status and special needs for the officials to make necessary arrangements to meet their needs.
“Provision of adequate information to PWDs about services, facilities, safety, security and hazards within the airports should be widely available in different formats.
“ Special training should be organised for airport and airlines personnel involved in the provision of assistive services, including check-in staff, boarding staff, cabin crew, etc. on the needs of PWDs and how best to meet them.
“Capacity building on the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018. This is to enhance the full implementation of the Act and service delivery of the Ministry on persons with disabilities.
“Ramps and hand-rails should be constructed at various parts of the airport for wheelchair users and easy access by PWDs.’
He said there should be accessible ticketing portals at airports for use by PWDs and other passengers as well as directional guides at airports for PWDs and other airport users.
The report also urged the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to urgently conduct an audit of all airports in Nigeria for disability facilities and provisions, with the full involvement of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) and other stakeholders.
Mr David Anyaele, Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), made a presentation on “Disability Rights Act: Access to Airport and Nigerians with Disabilities’’.
Anyaele, who is the Convener of CODO, restated that the Nigeria Disability Act provides for the full integration of person with disabilities into the society.
“And establish the National Commission for person with disabilities and vests the Commission with the responsibilities for their education, health, care social, economic and civil right.
“Removal of all barriers against PWDs use of their services (institutional, environmental and attitudinal barriers.
“Airport authorities and airline operators could support the government in raising awareness on the rights of PWDs,’’ Anyaele said.
NAN also reports that the study was carried out in the six geopolitical zones including South West, South East, South South, North West, North East, North Central, Federal Capital Territory.
The airports included the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 and Murtala Muhammed Airport 1, Ikeja, Lagos.
Also, Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu; Akwa Ibom Airport (Victor Attah International Airport), Uyo, Akwa Ibom; Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport,Kano.
The Gombe Lawanti International Airport (Sanni Abacha International Airport),Gombe; Jos Yakubu Gowon Airport, Plateau and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, FCT Abuja.
Gill Atkinson, the Deputy High Commissioner, British High Commission has called for the scaling up of effective implementation of disability laws in Nigeria.
Atkinson made the call when people with disabilities under the aegis of Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), a Non-Governmental Organisation visited her on Wednesday in Abuja.
According to her, the legal framework on disabilities in Nigeria are quite good and can do much for you but the implementation is the challenge.
“Part of the challenges in Nigeria is implementing the legal frameworks but attention should equally be paid on cultural barriers and the impact on persons with disabilities,’’ she said.
Earlier, the Executive Director of CCD, Mr David Anyaele, commended the British government for supporting issues concerning people with disabilities in Nigeria.
He, however, solicited the support of the British government in enabling CCD to have a peer learning with their United Kingdom counterparts on disability laws.
According to him, the British government has been our partner on ensuring the mainstreaming of issues concerning people with disabilities in their programmes.
“We feel that interacting with our peers over there will give us knowledge and help us to know some of the success stories they have achieved and areas we should strengthen our focus.
“So, that is why we feel that their support for us to do a study tour on disability movement is critical.
“It will enable us to identify low hanging fruits of knowledge that we can tap into to be able to respond to disability issues in Nigeria,’’ Anyaele said.
Anyele, however, expressed concern that lack of capacity by some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to effectively comply with disability laws have resulted to increased discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (PWD).
According to him, the National Disability Act (2018) has been weakly enforced in majority of the public institutions in Nigeria.
“Government should adopt a multi-sectoral approach to the task of successfully eliminating the physical, communication, attitudinal, cultural and institutional barriers faced by people with disabilities.
“Specifically, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities saddled with the implementation responsibility should build synergy with MDAs through consistent advocacy to scale up proper implementation of the Act,’’ he said.
While advocating specific yearly budget line for all the concerned line MDAs, Anyaele noted that it would increase efforts toward the inclusion and welfare of PWDs.
“Especially, by prioritising their welfare during health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic and elections,’’ he added.
Anyaele further urged the National Assembly to evoke its powers to enable proper implementation of the Act.
“The National Assembly should take appropriate measures to ensure that MDAs of the Federal Government implement the National Disability Act through oversight and budgetary approvals,’’ he said.
He also emphasised the need to build the capacity of the MDAs for full optimisation of the Discrimination against Persons with Disability Act (2018).
Ahead of the 2023 General Elections, the Centre for Citizens With Disabilities (CCD) has solicited the support of Lagos State Office For Disabilities Affairs (LASODA) and Lagos State Independence Electoral Commission (LASIEC) for an inclusive electoral process.Mr. Peter Ekemini, Programme Officer, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), made the call on Tuesday during a courtesy visit to LASODA, at the Lagos State Secretariat, Lagos.Ekemini said that Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) encountered systematic exclusion in the election process, saying particularly those that participated in July 2021 Local Government election in Lagos State faced numerous challenges.He said there was a need to tackle and bring down identified challenges, adding that LASODA should collaborate with LASIEC to ensure that PWDs were not left by election observers, ad-hoc staff, and other key stakeholders in the processes.According to him, the challenges which pose as barriers that limit equal participation of PWDs in the electoral process include lack of sign language for deaf clusters, lack of braille format for the blind, and magnifying glasses for the albinos.“LASODA should always make a deliberate effort to ascertain from LASIEC that these are available, accessible in an understandable usable format, particularly for PWDs in the next years and subsequent elections.“Security agents should be trained to give priority to PWDs during the election and electioneering, also, sister agencies in order to create equal voting access,” he added.Mrs. Florence Austin, the Finance of CCD, disclosed that the body had embarked on a project targeted at breaking barriers that prevent PWDs from accessing airport services on an equal basis with others.Austin, who spoke on behalf of Mr. David Anyaele, Executive Director of CCD, said that the Coalition Of Disability Organisation (CODO) in partnership with CCD, Spinal Cord Injury Association of Nigeria (SCIAN), and Hope Alive for Possible Initiative (HAPI), we're presently working on a project, “Enhancing Access to Airport with PWDs”.Meanwhile, she called on the Federal Airport of Nigeria (FAAN) to urgently conduct an audit of all airports in the country for disabilities facilities and provisions which must involve the Organisation for Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) including other stakeholders.“They should procure and deploy mobile wheelchairs to support boarding and disembarking of physically challenge passengers from the aircraft, as well as friendly buses at the tarmacs,” Austin added.She recommended that special training be organized for airport and airline personnel on the needs of PWDs and how best to meet and assist them, as rendering assistance must be made mandatory.Responding, the General Manager of LASODA, Mr. Dare Dairo, who applauded the CCD and partners for the initiative, assured the stakeholders of their maximum support that PWDs would not be left behind, as emphasized by Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos state.Dairo expressed delight at the enthusiasm of Nigerians in the election processes and assured them that the office would be on INEC to ensure PWDs got their PVCs early enough.“At LASODA, we believe in the systematic chain, we really need the system to work because when the system works, you don’t need to know anybody to access what should be ordinarily available.“There is no single hospital or classroom under LASODA. So, we need to work with the Ministry of Health and Education in order to achieve these mandates, so everything still boils down to a system.“We have to create the right structure, understanding for synergy because synergy is the way to achieve a common goal, note, civil society worldwide has passed the stage of carrying placards,” he added.“It is therefore fundamental that we bring the system to speed in order to ensure that inclusion is on the front burner, you are not alone in the fight,” he added.The LASODA GM urged the groups and stakeholders to be more proactive, especially with the political season and electioneering in the nation to attain a common goal.NewsSourceCredit: NAN