Towards Inclusive Governance: An Urgent Call for the Appointment of Persons with Disabilities in President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
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 had lobbied for the allocation of 10% of Ministerial positions to individuals with disabilities. Regrettably, despite this concerted effort and appeal, the new cabinet list presented to the Senate for screening and approval includes no ministers identifying as persons with disabilities.
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.
This commitment to diversity is codified in the Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities Prohibition Act, of 2018, which promotes the rights of persons with disabilities and explicitly prohibits discrimination. By adhering to this Act, Nigeria can strengthen its commitment to human rights and establish an exemplary standard of inclusivity.
Several Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs), alongside other political leaders including the international community, had previously called upon President Tinubu to appoint persons with disabilities as ministers. There was even a discussion about the possible creation of a dedicated ministry for disability affairs.
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:
1. Immediate appointment of persons with disabilities into Ministerial positions at the National level and Commissioner positions at state levels.
2. The enforcement of Section 29 of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018 which provides to the effect that a minimum of 5% appointment quota for persons with disabilities at all levels of government, including states.
3. Convene a constructive and inclusive dialogue with President Bola Tinubu and relevant governmental authorities to discuss the concerns and aspirations of persons with disabilities.
4. Ensuring the inclusion of persons with disabilities in decision-making processes concerning policies that directly or indirectly affect them e.g., the palliative committee on subsidy removal.
In the spirit of constructive dialogue and our shared commitm
ent 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.
1. TAF Africa
2. Disability Rights Advocacy Center (DRAC)
3. Inclusive Friends Association (IFA)
4. Center for Ability, Rehabilitation, and Empowerment (CARE)
5. Freky Andrew-Essien Care Foundation (FAECARE Foundation)
6. The Qualitative Magazine
7. Albinism Association of Nigeria (AAN)
8. Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD)
9. National Association of Persons with Physical Disabilities (NAPWPD)
10. CEDARSEED FOUNDATION
11. Network of Women with Disabilities
12. Alliance for Inclusion