Barely 24 hours after the screening and ratification of 45 of the 48 nominees submitted by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the Senate, the community of Persons With Disabilities has decried the exclusion of PWDs from the Ministerial lists. The PWDs, at a Joint Conference held at
Barely 24 hours after the screening and ratification of 45 of the 48 nominees submitted by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the Senate, the community of Persons With Disabilities has decried the exclusion of PWDs from the Ministerial lists.
The PWDs, at a Joint Conference held at Denis Hotel in Abuja on Tuesday, expressed their disappointment with the Ministerial nomination, in which they accused the President of overlooking the role of persons with disabilities in the country.
Coordinated by notable Civil Society Organisations known for representation of the PWDS in the country like TAF Africa, Disability Right Advocacy Centre, and Inclusive Friends among others, the Advocacy groups noted that despite all of their efforts for Nigeria to toll the path of inclusivity, the President has decided to ignore justice and equality for the PWDs.
They also added that President Tinubu has violated the Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities Prohibition Act 2018, which mandates that at least 5% of PWDs must be prioritised for public office posts.
“The recent ministerial list proposed by President Bola Tinubu has unfortunately overlooked the integral role that persons with disabilities can and should play in Nigerian governance. This omission is not in accordance with the Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities Prohibition Act, 2018 which calls for the inclusion of at least 5% of persons with disabilities in public office appointments.
The current lack of representation in the Federal Executive Council marks a missed opportunity to advance equality and justice for persons with disabilities in Nigeria.
“Prior to the establishment of this cabinet, persons with disabilities, as well as their representative organizations and the House of Representatives lobbied for the allocation of 10% of Ministerial positions to individuals with disabilities. Regrettably, despite this concerted effort and appeal, the new cabinet list was presented to the Senate for screening and approval includes no ministers identifying as persons with disabilities”.
Speaking on the essence of PWDs in public offices, the Community stated that inclusivity will enhance diverse perspectives on policy-making and representation of all Nigerian citizens.
They also submitted with the oversights of the PWDs, their hopes in the government to establish a separate ministry for the PWDs has been deflated, adding that such action does not reflect the exemplary standard of inclusivity.
“Including persons with disabilities in key governmental positions has tremendous societal benefits. Not only does it affirm our commitment to equality, but it also fosters a more inclusive society that truly represents the diversity of our citizenry. Persons with disabilities bring unique perspectives and experiences to decision-making processes, ensuring that policies and strategies are reflective of and responsive to, the needs and rights of all Nigerians.
Regrettably, the absence of persons with disabilities in the new cabinet list deflates the hope and anticipation fostered by these discussions. We are deeply concerned by this oversight, and we, the undersigned representatives of the disability community, wish to draw attention to our immediate demands” they said.
The community, therefore, demanded the immediate inclusion of PWDs into the Ministerial positions, and the enforcement of section 29 of the Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities Prohibition Act which gives a 5% quota to the PWDs in the public offices.
They further called for a constructive dialogue with President Tinubu on the issues of the PWDs, demanding that they must be included in the decision-making bodies on the sharing of subsidy removal palliatives across the country.
“In the spirit of constructive dialogue and our shared commitment to democratic values, we kindly present a timeline of seven (7) days, hoping to see the initiation of measures that address our enumerated concerns. Should the period pass without observable progress, we would feel compelled, albeit reluctantly, to amplify our advocacy efforts. These might encompass peaceful assemblies, exploring legal avenues in alignment with the Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities Prohibition Act, 2018, and fostering conversations with both local and global media partners to emphasize the importance of disability representation in governance. Our dedication to inclusive participation remains steadfast, and we earnestly hope for collaborative action in this endeavor.
“There is a wealth of untapped potential within Nigeria’s disability community that we, as a nation, must harness. Countless individuals with disabilities possess not only the required knowledge and skills but also the fortitude and resilience born from their unique life experiences, making them exceptionally qualified to serve in various capacities.
“Far from being mere symbols of diversity, these individuals are capable leaders who can drive change, foster innovation, and contribute significantly to our nation’s progress. It is high time we move past misconceptions and biases, opening our minds and our government to the rich diversity and talent that exists within the disability community. Inclusion is not charity; it’s a compelling imperative for a stronger, more representative, and effective governance.
“Inclusive governance is not just about representation; it is about embracing the rich tapestry of experiences within our populace and ensuring that all citizens, regardless of their physical or cognitive capabilities, have an equal opportunity to contribute to the nation’s progress. As such, we eagerly await a swift rectification in the spirit of equality, inclusivity, and social justice”, they concluded.