By Tony Adibe
The Joint National Association of Persons with Disability (JONAPWD), Enugu State chapter has appealed to the Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to consider their members for political appointments.
The Association, which made the appeal on Thursday at the celebration of 2022 International Day of the Disabled held at the FSP Centre, Enugu also asked Governor Ugwuanyi to quickly domesticate the Disability Act that has reached public hearing stage at the Enugu State House of Assembly.
The JONAPWD chairman in Enugu State, Comrade Onyebuchi Mba, who made the appeal on behalf of his members, said that many of the disabled are eminently qualified to be given political appointments such as Commissioners, Special Advisers and Special Assistants.
Mba said: “Your Excellency may wish to begin to apply right away for the five percent (5%) employment or appointment opportunities as provided for in the National Disability Act. There should be special considerations to include PWDs in making political appointments. Very many of us are well qualified to assume the positions of SAs, SSAs, SPAs, Commissioners, chairman boards, boards members, etc.”
MBA said in addition to giving them appointments, the members needed a Desk Office at the Government House to serve as a direct link between the public, PWDs and the government as well as an annual subvention to enable them to sustain and maintain their office and other sundry needs.
Mba bemoaned the non-domestication of the Disability Act, saying that it has affected them adversely and appealed for its speedy domestication. According to him, “The delay in domesticating this national disability law in Enugu State is not just frustrating, it is also discouraging the disability community from self-discovery and self-reliance.
“We, therefore, in humility, call on the Enugu State House of Assembly to consider the global practice in disability matters and domesticate the Enugu State Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities Prohibition Bill of 2022, as sent by the Executive Governor to the House of Assembly and having scaled through to the public hearing stage in the house.”
Represented on the occasion by Mrs. Onyinye Mamah, the Founder of Heroine Women Foundation, an NGO, Governor Ugwuanyi said that before the administration winds off next year, the Disability Law would be domesticated in Enugu State.
The Governor said that the disabled, like every other citizens have the full right to live and associate without intimidation, molestation, discrimination, and harassment by anybody. In a goodwill message, the Enugu State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Dr. Chukwuemeka Joseph Chukwu, said that INEC has provision for people living with disability for the forthcoming polls in 2023.
Dr. Chukwu, who was represented by Mrs. Antonia Eze, CSO/PWD Desk Officer, INEC, Enugu said: “the Commission is particularly pleased to inform you that the 2022 Electoral Act, Section 54, Sub Section 2, provides that INEC ensures that persons with disabilities, special needs and vulnerable persons are assisted at the pooling units. INEC will not relent in our effort at ensuring the total inclusivity of PWDs in the electoral cycle/process.”
Also speaking at the occasion, Director of Amaka Nweke Foundation, Amb, Amaka Nweke, in conjunction with Linkage Assurance said that they empathised with people living with disabilities and the less privileged in the society, hence donated five white Canes to the visually blind to enable them move about.
Nweke promised that by the first quarter of next year, they intend to extend the benevolence to about 100 visually impaired persons in Enugu State.