Townhall Meeting in Bayelsa State on Persons with Disabilities Mainstreaming in Governance Processes

With funding support from the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, TAF Africa organized a town hall in Bayelsa State on Mainstreaming Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Governance Processes in partnership with the Office of the Secretary to the State Government. In his goodwill message, the Secretary to Bayelsa State Government, Hon. Gideon Ekeuwei said that the government is dedicated to creating an environment where their rights are upheld, and their voices are heard, and is committed to implementing policies that foster inclusivity, remove barriers, and provide equal opportunities for all. In his words, “We consider it a strategic essential for the overall growth of our state, as well as a matter of social fairness, that persons with disabilities actively participate in governing processes. “As the Secretary to the State Government, I assure you that the government of Bayelsa is dedicated to creating an environment where the rights of persons with disabilities are upheld, and their voices are heard. We are committed to implementing policies that foster inclusivity, remove barriers, and provide equal opportunities for all. “I commend TAF Africa for their relentless efforts in advocating for disability inclusiveness and I express gratitude for organizing this Town Hall Meeting. It is platforms like the work towards a more inclusive and just society.” He added that the theme of the meeting aligns with the state government's commitment to building a more inclusive and accessible government. The CEO/Founder of TAF Africa, Amb. Jake Epelle commended the Governor of Bayelsa State, Sen. Douye Diri for appointing persons with disabilities as Special Advisers and Special Assistants. He also appealed to the Governor to prove himself as the number one inclusive governor by appointing a person with a disability as commissioner after the inauguration of his second term in office. According to him, “Let me use this occasion to call on the Bayelsa state governor, Senator Douye Diri, that you are about to constitute a new government, thank you for giving us Special Advisers, but this time around we want a commissioner, not a commissioner for persons with disabilities, but a commissioner with disability. We have many persons with disabilities across board that can function in several ministries, use this occasion to prove yourself as the number one inclusive governor by appointing a person with disability as a commissioner.” “I think this is the beginning of what might snowball into a national and continental agenda which is inclusive governance, getting the government to commit to creating the platform for participation of Persons Living with Disabilities in all strata of governance whether it is in legislative or executive or judiciary. “It is an opportunity to bring together all the ministries, persons with disabilities, and Non-Governmental Organizations to discuss a template for inclusive governance. We created a pathway for that synergy and duty bearers to commit to what they will do to ensure that persons with disabilities are carried along. The town hall had in attendance several permanent secretaries from relevant ministries in Bayelsa State, the Secretary to the state government, Leaders in the disability community, civil society organizations, various clusters of persons with disabilities, and organizations of persons with disabilities.

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