Forum’s Secretary Accuses Tinubu of Bias for Excluding PLWDs from Appointments

Bulus Chuanoemoh, the National Organising Secretary of the Northern Nigeria Disability Forum, spoke with MUHAMMED LAWAL about the challenges faced by people living with disabilities (PLWDs) and the inadequate implementation of government policies intended to protect them.

Addressing the issue of stereotypes and ridicule faced by PLWDs, Chuanoemoh highlighted the prevalence of misconceptions due to lack of education about disabilities. He mentioned that many Nigerians wrongly believe that PLWDs are unable to help themselves and can only resort to begging. He emphasized the need for awareness and education to change these perceptions.

Chuanoemoh criticized the current state of policies concerning PLWDs in Nigeria, describing them as subpar and poorly enforced. He cited the National Disability Rights Act, which despite being signed into law by former President Muhammadu Buhari, has not been fully implemented. He stressed the importance of proper implementation and domestication of such policies at the state level to address the challenges faced by PLWDs effectively.

Regarding the forum’s threat to take legal action against President Tinubu over the exclusion of PLWDs from appointments, Chuanoemoh stated that it constitutes discrimination. He explained that the Act protecting PLWDs’ rights was passed through the National Assembly and ratified by international treaties, making discrimination against PLWDs unconstitutional.

Chuanoemoh discussed the efforts of the forum to improve the situation for PLWDs, including a focus on skills acquisition programs to make members more independent and self-sufficient. He highlighted the need to challenge the perception of PLWDs as solely beggars and to showcase their capabilities.

He outlined several challenges faced by PLWDs, including limited access to quality education, unemployment due to misconceptions about their abilities, lack of capital to start businesses, inadequate infrastructure for mobility, and insufficient access to healthcare.

Regarding the involvement of northern governors, Chuanoemoh noted a lack of tangible support for PLWDs in terms of policies and programs, urging for their inclusion in government initiatives.

Chuanoemoh acknowledged that there have been no notable appointments of PLWDs in key positions within the northern states’ governments. He mentioned only a few instances of PLWDs being appointed as special assistants, but these cases are rare.

On the topic of political engagement, Chuanoemoh stated that PLWDs do participate in elections by encouraging voter registration and voting, recognizing the importance of their civic responsibility.

Regarding funding for the Northern Nigeria Disability Forum, Chuanoemoh explained that the organization relies on local contributions from its members and support from individuals and philanthropic organizations, as it is not government-funded.

Chuanoemoh emphasized the need for concurrent campaigns against discrimination in schools and at the national level, considering the urgency of the situation and the potential impact of education on future generations.

He highlighted the issue of violence against PLWDs in the North, noting that incidents often go unreported. He expressed concern about the vulnerability of PLWDs to attacks.

Lastly, Chuanoemoh discussed the economic challenges faced by forum members, stating that they rely heavily on external support and have not received government palliatives to mitigate the effects of economic difficulties.

Regarding the coup in Niger, he expressed his dismay, considering it unfortunate that such events still occur in the 21st century. He emphasized the need for diplomatic solutions over military intervention to address such situations in West Africa.

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