… marks International Day of Persons Living with Disabilities
Ndifreke Enefiok, Uyo.
The Akwa Ibom State Government has reassured it’s unwavering drive to support, give more inclusion and sustainable empowerment in other to achieve an accessible future for Persons Living with Disabilities (PWDs) in the state.
The government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Women Affairs while marking the International Day of Persons Living With Disabilities on Tuesday disclosed that continuous effort will be put in place to ensure PWDs in the state are carried along in the scheme of things through initiation of more advocacy programmes that promote PWDs in the positive light.
The 2019 international day of persons living with disabilities which held at the Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat field, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State had as it’s theme, ”the Future is Accessible”.
International Day of Persons Living With Disabilities is observed every 3rd December globally to help promote the understanding of disability issues, mobilise concerted advocacy and support dignity, rights and welfare of persons living with disabilities.
Speaking at the event, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Women Affairs, Dr. Glory Edet explained that it behooves on Nigeria as a signatory to the ratification of the convention of persons living with disabilities to create awareness against discrimination of PWDs while ensuring proper integration and accommodation of PWDs in the country is sustained.
Dr. Edet adds that the day is set aside globally to “increase awareness on the unquantifiable gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities into every facet of life of our society and show how collaborative effort with schools, workplaces, business communities, groups and individuals could help to remove all forms of social barriers against persons with disabilities.”
On the theme for this year’s celebration, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Women Affairs said that ”it presents hope for a society where there is equal access to inherent resources by all citizens, full participation, accessibility and inclusion of all persons with disabilities.”
Dr. Edet said that the Akwa Ibom State government through introduction and initiation of empowerment programmes is gradually pushing the frontiers of discrimination and creating an equitable and sustainable Akwa Ibom where no PWDs is left behind.
She maintained that the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel has successfully sustained an inclusive approach in governance through implementation policy and programmes which positively impacts the lives of persons with disabilities in the state.
‘‘This is clearly seen in the constant provision of mobility devices, financial empowerment, educational materials and scholarships for students with disabilities, sponsoring of skill acquisition programmes, provision of different skill equipment and start-up packs, sponsoring some persons with disabilities to attend seminars and workshops, appointment of some persons with disabilities into positions of authority in the last Transition Committee in Local Government Councils, the employment of some persons with disabilities into the State Public Service and the annual celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, as we are all witnessing today.” She added.
She solicited that PWDs should not be discriminated or neglected in the society as they possess same mental capacity, strength to life as every humans but were only challenged by circumstances they have no control over, stressing that PWDs should be treated equally and loved.
Reacting to a gift presented to her by one Miss Esther Udoh, a physically challenged person, Dr. Edet advised PWDs to optimise every opportunity given to them by learning a skill and exhibiting a culture of self independent as this will stand them out. She revealed that monitoring team from her ministry will visit the workplace of the donor to find out what machine and equipment needs to be purchased to encourage the expansion of her business.
Delivering a key note address, Mr Francis Bassey, the resource person for the occasion hinted that the theme for this year’s celebration was apt and pointy as it draws the attention of the international community to the predicament, challenges and endowment that persons living with disabilities possess same ability and mental capacity to work and fit equally in the society.
Mr Bassey, who is a member of the association of the Blind hinted that “In the past Persons Living With Disabilities were relegated to second class citizen level, nobody associated or had dealings with them but through consistent and continuous advocacy, today PWDs are carried along in the scheme of things and given better inclusion in government and other places of authority.”
While soliciting for integration and empowerment of PWDs in the state, Mr Bassey charged government, politicians and well placed individuals in the state to adopt at least one PWDs in the society by teaching them how to be self-independent and reliable so they can contribute meaningfully to the society.
He advised the physically challenged persons not to use their inabilities as excuse to constitute nuisance in the society but rather should use the obvious and humongous challenges facing them as avenue to gainfully engage themselves because the future is assured for them.
Earlier, the President, Joint Association of Persons with Disabilities, Deaconess Affiong Bassey in her address expressed happiness over the year’s celebration, stressing that it rests on the shoulders of the global community to achieve an accessible future for PWDs by advocating for violence and discrimination against people living with disabilities.
She applauded the effort of the state government in accommodating PWDs and creating more avenues of opportunities for all persons with disabilities in the four clusters in the state to be incorporated, she expressed optimism that if more PWDs are absolved into the political circle, given employment and assistance it will alleviate their standard of living.
She added that “since the Commencement of the present administration there is no year the government of Akwa Ibom State through the Commissioner for Agriculture and Women Affairs does not gather persons living with disabilities to celebrate with them.”
Speaking on behalf of Persons with Disabilities, stressed that the future will be holistically assured if Persons Living With Disabilities are given more attention, he added that government should also be accessible to PWDs by reaching out to them at the local and wards levels which according to him will help fast track the meeting of the core needs of PWDs.
“The future is accessible for persons living with disabilities in Akwa Ibom State because through the ministry of Women Affairs, the government has initiated and provided mobility aids and empowerment items which has alleviated our state of living” He added
Also speaking, the Chairman Association of Blind Persons in Akwa Ibom State, Mr Ubong Ben maintained that this year’s celebration is apt and very ideal especially at a time where the global community is canvasing against discrimination of Persons with disabilities.
He reiterates that Persons Living With Disabilities in the state will fully embraced and adopt the dakkada philosophy of the state government if an accessible future where they are gainfully employed into the civil service is created, appealing that the state government should implement policies that reflect more in the engagement of PWDs in the state work force.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs Margaret Edem while recounting the numerous programmes initiated by the state government through the Ministry said more effort will be put to give PWDs an accessible future.
She thanked governor Udom and his wife Martha for heeding to the plight of PWDs in the state by encouraging and supporting the ministry under Dr. Edet to achieve the feat the ministry has achieved.
The epoch celebration was well attended by PWDs drawn from across the 31 local government areas of the state. Music performances and cultural displays from association of the deaf, blind and leprosy were part of varieties added to spice up the event.
Highpoint of the event was presentation of wheelchairs, crutches, computer devices and other empowerment items to some PWDs. Also, Miss Esther Udoh presented the Commissioner for Agriculture and Women Affairs a handmade bag made by herself.
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