Persons living with disabilities under different Associations have called for the implementation of disability laws under different conventions to ensure their full inclusion into society and their fundamental human rights.
They made the call on Friday in Abuja during a media briefing organized by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission in commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Ms Ekaete Umoh, Vice Chair, West Africa Federation of the Disabled (WAFOD) said that the non-implementation of some of these legislations have further increased the plight of Persons with Disabilities in Society.
Umoh however commended the ECOWAS Commission was charting a way forward with its study on the plights of persons with disabilities across the sub-region to develop an action plan to address their challenges.
“It is the responsibility of governments to take care of its citizens because the strength of a government is measured by how much it can take care of the most vulnerable persons in the society.
“We are excited we have the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities and on our part, we working in collaboration with the Commission to see to the implementation of the disability law.
“Because that we have a piece of document does not translate to rights.
“We can have those law stacks somewhere but the lack of implementation will not lead to the realization of rights”, Umoh said.
Umoh further kicked against the stereotype on persons with disabilities known for street begging saying that a lot of able-bodied persons also beg on the street for survival.
She however noted that proper inclusion of persons with disabilities, especially in employment will reduce their dependency on people for survival.
Mrs Bose Enuiyin, Member of the Deaf Women Association also called on the government to make sure sign language interpreters are made available at all service points like hospitals, institutions, offices, among others.
Enuiyin further lamented the plights of pregnant deaf women in the hospital, especially in antenatal classes and on doctor’s appointments.
Dr Sinkiti Ugbe, Directr, Humanitarian and Social Affairs of the ECWOAS Commission said that the Commission taken cognizance of the plights of Persons with Disabilities would develop an action plan to address their challenges.
Ugbe said the Action Plan which has just being decided upon will begin with a study to understand the challenges of Persons with Disabilities to come up with good response plans with emphasis on inclusion.
She commended national governments for their efforts so far, as she pledged the continuous support of ECOWAS to complement their efforts.
“We are going to do a study across the region to come up with an Action Plan to mainstream disability issues into policies, into legislations into programs.
“An action plan will help to better guide the implementation of our programs and activities to promote response especially in emergencies, especially in humanitarian activities like the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“The National Commission for Persons with Disabilities is a positive one for Nigeria.
“If you go to our Member states, some of the have commissions and legislations to mainstream disability into education, into economic empowerment, social welfare, even in elections.
“During the last general election in Nigeria there were efforts to ensure that persons with disabilities are also part of the process.
“So a lot is going on by our national government but we cannot leave everything to our National government.
“We as a regional organization has a role and within our role is to build synergy and ensure Member states are working in harmony to deliver on these international legislations.
“Some counties are ahead, some are behind but we have to make sure they are sharing best practices on how to improve issues on Persons with disabilities”, Ugbe said.
Ugbe noted that the development of action plan will be guided by outcomes from the studies, UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the AU Protocol addressing the same thing.