Disabilities Day ’22: Nigerian govt. must invest in assistive technology for PWDs – Bankole

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By Joy Odor

As the world commemorates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities to recognize the dignity and issues around PWDs, All Progressives Congress, APC, National Leader, PWDs has called on government at all levels to subsidize assistive technology that will guarantee inclusivity and accessibility for Persons With Disabilities.

“Indeed, government must do more for us. According to the Global Report on Assistive Technology, 2.5 billion people need at least one assistive product. The demand is expected to be go up to 3.5 billion by 2050. The requirement may range from a spectacle to highly advanced myoelectric hand or robotic exoskeletons. However, nearly nine out of 10 people who need assistive technology do not have access to it – this has an adverse impact on the education, livelihood, health and well-being of individuals, families, communities and societies.

“Government must champion innovation which will improve access of PWDs to assistive technologies in Nigeria without further delay.

“Availability and affordability of assistive smart technologies to PWDs will give them access/ inclusion thus they can participate fully, equally and effectively in society with others, and face no barriers in all aspects of their lives” Bankole submitted.

The PWDs leader in a podcast to commemorate the occasion noted that government at all levels must realize that unlocking the full potential of Persons With Disabilities by breaking down the systemic barriers that limit their full participation in society is not only the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do.

The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) on December 3 was proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.

The theme this year is “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world“. The theme is a rally cry to invest in Persons With Disabilities which will reduce poverty, promote economic growth and contribute to lasting development of Nigeria.

Bankole said, “With about one in every eight Nigerians living with at least one form of disability. Most common of these disabilities are visual impairment, hearing impairment, physical impairment, intellectual impairment, and communication impairment. APC led administration under President Muhammadu Buhari has particularly played an important role in tackling the range of challenges confronting the disabilities community.

“President Buhari has assented to the Persons with Disabilities Bill, and other intervention programmes to alleviate the plight of PWDs in Nigeria. APC been a friend of PWDs have strongly and consistently advocated for the inclusion and improvement of lives of PWDs which led to the free nomination form for all PWDs aspirants in the 2022 APC primaries at all levels.”

Stating his achievements, he said: “As the leader of PWDs, I disbursed grants and empowerment to women and men in different PWDs clusters nationwide to engender financial inclusion. Bursary and scholarships were awarded to PWDs students across the country while I paid for GCE forms of hundreds of SSS 3 students to drive home our call for educational inclusion.

“I organised and self sponsored the first PWDs National summit at NICON Hilton Abuja where far reaching resolutions have been forwarded to the appropriate authorities for prompt actions.”

He charged governments to do more at all levels to guarantee inclusivity and accessibility for Persons with Disabilities in Nigeria.

“Indeed, government must do more for us. States who are yet to domesticate the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018 must do so urgently. We call for: financial inclusion of PWDs, accessibility and economic development and empowerment of PWDs, education and health services at affordable cost to PWDs, scholarship and bursary, and insurance policy at affordable cost.”

On political inclusion, he made case for PWDs to be considered as as ministers, commissioners and board members of government MDAs.

Finally, Bankole called on all Persons With Disabilities to vote massively for All Progressives Congress, APC candidates in the forthcoming general election, he maintained that the APC is the only party that has outlined plans to make life better for them.

“This year’s International Day of Persons With Disabilities occurs in our build up to the general election. I am pleased to share that the Presidential candidate of our party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will prioritize these concerns of persons with disabilities if elected in 2023 as outlined in his Renewed Hope manifesto.

“Again, we celebrate all PWDs for their resilience and readiness to excel despite the challenges. No doubt we are people with determination not disability. I urge all PWDs to vote for all APC candidates in the 2023 general elections for inclusive development” he concluded.

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