“On behalf of the Participate Today project I would love to recognize and welcome:
- Norbert Obi Chairman, All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) Anambra State represented by Pst. Emma Adibe
- Comrade Patrick Obianyo State Chairman, African Democratic Congress (ADC), Anambra represented by Chukwuma Agufugo (State Secretary)
- Chief Basil Ejidike Chairman, All Progressive Congress (APC), Anambra State Barrister
- Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu Chairman, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Anambra State.
- Prince Moses Obi State Chairman, Young Progressive Party (YPP) Anambra State.
- Ugochukwu Ernest Chairman, Joint Association of Persons with Disabilities JONAPWD-Anambra State
- Sunday Afolabi –Senior Advisor, International Republican Institute (IRI)
- Ambassador Chikas Kumle – Social Justice Advocate
Disability rights leaders here present;
Ladies and gentlemen of the press;
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen;
We appreciate your continued support for our work in promoting the participation of persons with disabilities in our electoral and political processes. We value your time.
The civic and political participation of persons with disabilities generally has gone beyond the routine electoral process of registering for elections, voting, and contesting for elections. These shifts bounce on the inclusivity of persons with disabilities at administrative offices, as executives at the local, state, and national levels; political parties’ executives, and policy formulation processes.
The comprehensive National Law covers issues of discrimination; awareness-raising; political participation, employment, etc across all boards. Sadly, the attitude towards the implementation of the National Disability Law seems dwindling to utopian as efforts invested are not enough, especially at the states level.
In addition to this legal instrument at the national level, States like Ekiti, Plateau, Lagos, Bauchi, Kano, Jigawa, Kogi, Kwara, Anambra, and Ondo – have all passed legislation to protect the rights of PWDs, while others have established Disability Rights Commission or agencies/boards to oversee the full inclusion of PWDs in their states. So to mention, a few states are also responding and employing PWDs with decent jobs.
The agenda for the government is the full implementation of policies to guarantee the rights and inclusion of PWDs. This can only be achieved through a strategic policy engagement with various state governments/institutions and the INEC to guarantee their political and public rights and also the various political parties.
Therefore, we will like to use this opportunity to engage the political party secretaries present on this occasion to open conversations about PWDs’ inclusivity in their party structures.
What Political Parties must do to ensure inclusion
All political parties must work to ensure that:
The code of conduct for political parties should also provide very clear measures to administratively review political party provisions for all PWDs in various political parties therefore, a clear policy direction on inclusion is required from political parties
Political parties must deliberate about producing their campaign materials to ensure they are inaccessible formats to reach different clusters of PWDs. E.g., braille forms, audio, sign language / subtitled videos, etc.
Political parties must ensure that venues for meetings and campaign activities are accessible to all PWDs. This oversight function of the political parties can be facilitated through the National Assembly.
Additionally, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) must also advocate for the rights of all persons in the political and electoral spaces irrespective of gender, disability, and age. The inclusion of youth and gender parity must be mainstream in all our programs to close the gaps and exclusion at all levels.
There are also relatively low independent media productions disseminating political party and electoral information targeting PWDs. Media houses and Political parties can support and ensure that there is adequate electoral information that is accessible to PWDs before, during, and after the elections.
To our able participants, we especially welcome you on this great occasion. This civic and political organizing is organized to equip PWDs with the necessary tools for running effective political and civic campaigns, build a community/network for political solidarity and advocacy, and facilitate the implementation of the Disability Act at the national and sub-national levels. We implore your attention and corporation during the learning processes and also advise you to take hold of the opportunity to network in solidarity as we champion the cause of inclusivity at all levels and access to strata. Be informed, that the success of this project will lie on your shoulders.
In conclusion, the ‘Participate Today’ Campaign and its funding partner, the National Endowment for Democracy – NED appreciates all Organizations of Persons with Disabilities OPDs, PWD leaders, and the media for working with us to deepen engagements for PWD participation in our elections and politics generally.
We look forward to the outcome of today’s conversation and the useful recommendations that would be made by various panelists.
Thank you all.”