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PWDs demand legal framework, policies in Ondo

By Saheed Ibrahim

In order to promote and guarantee their inclusion, accessibility, equal rights, and opportunities, persons with disabilities in Ondo State have demanded a legal framework and policies.

Speaking at a one-day workshop on the development of the PWD Charter of Demand in Ondo State ahead of the 2024 gubernatorial election, organized by Disability Not a Barrier Initiative (DINABI), persons with special needs highlighted issues affecting them.

While appreciating the Ondo State Government for establishing the Agency for the Welfare of Persons with Disabilities, they stressed the need for the state and others to develop a body of laws and policies that promote and guarantee quality and affordable education, accessible healthcare services, agriculture, para-sport, and employment for PWDs.

Other areas of concern highlighted were transportation, political participation, empowerment, retirement age, social protection schemes, and the general well-being of PWDs.

Speaking at the event, the Chairperson of the Agency for the Welfare of Persons with Disabilities in Ondo State, Folashade Arise, stressed that accessibility and inclusivity are fundamental human rights, and PWDs must have equal rights and responsibilities as every other person.

While stating that Ondo State has led other states in promoting an inclusive society, she said more efforts would be taken to ensure that PWDs exercise their franchise with ease and in line with codes of conduct and special facilities available.
Arise said the workshop was a crucial step forward to achieve a more inclusive society and provide opportunities for PWDs to present their priorities to the government for implementation, emphasizing that the voices of PWDs must be heard beyond election periods.

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Also, the State Chairman of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, JONAPWD, Mr Abiodun Samuel Olusegun, said the program would help to identify the needs and concerns of PWDs in the state and devise mechanisms to follow them up for implementation.

Earlier, the Executive Director of DINABI, Olajide Benjamin, said that Ondo State would go to the polls for the gubernatorial election come November and there was a need to harmonize the concerns of PWDs and present them to the government and candidates of various political parties running for the election for implementation should they win the election.

While stating that Ondo State has an agency for the welfare of PWDs, he stressed the need for a legal body of laws and policies covering education, health, farming, social development, and other areas of concern for PWDs.
He also stressed the need for PWDs to participate in political activities and contribute to social development, making their voices and presence known in society.

Earlier, the Programme Manager of DINABI, Michael Ogundele, said it was necessary to forge policies that would promote the interests and rights of PWDs and present them to the relevant stakeholders for implementation.

He stated that PWDs are not to be pitied but given an atmosphere to thrive and develop without any form of hindrance or discrimination.

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