Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Part 2: Tuesday 6th December 2011

So many grumpy faces in vehicles left baking in the sun whilst waiting for the 'marginalised and long neglected persons of the society' attempt to make a mark in history. If these brains behind the grumpy faces could, for a few precious seconds, grasp that disability can happen to just anyone and I mean ANYONE.
Getting squashed in a road traffic accident on the pot-holed roads in this country with poor emergency ambulatory treatment is one fast way of getting a disability! Or how about getting a febrile illness and getting dosed up wiith ototoxic medications? That's another way of getting a disability. If this Bill gets passed into law after so much sweat, pain, deaths, torture that many PWDs suffer without any support from the rest of the society then the society had better be grateful that we fought for everyone!!!

Enough of the sermon (or is it rant?); let me take you back to what happened afterwards.

We attended the symposium which was held at the National Human Rights Commission. This event (and the rally) was jointly organised by JONAPWD (an umbrella association for PWDs in NGR) and International Republican Institute  (IRI). Some organisations were represented: USAID, National Human Rights Commission, ActionAid and a couple of others that yours truly's ears did not grab quickly enough.
Gov. Al-Makura and Senator Bode Olajumoke were on the high table with the former Chief Justice of NGR- Justice Uwais. Good speeches were made. In particular,in his solidarity speech, Gov. Al-Makura spoke about how policies were formulated with the assumption that all citizens were able-bodied and that there is ability in disability. He also shared how he faced discrimination after being hospitalised for almost a month in which he became profoundly deaf. So you see why I listen to him? Because he KNOWS what it is like! The state he governs- Nasarawa State is the state of reference. I saw proper buses that are specially-adapted (first ladies, please take note!!). I am truly glad for Nasarawa citizens!
I am now saying the next statement with a very solemn expression. *Justice Uwais' speech was loooooong!* And seriously peppered with issues of human rights and pushing for the Millenium Development Goals that NGR is struggling to achieve. Listening to him certainly drove the messages home that in order for any development goal to be achieved, passing the Bill would be expedient. Since I had never seen him speak before, I was slayed in a good way.
Media coverage was good but I did not see any NTA personnel *shrug* Says a lot for the government.

The general consensus among the PWDs back at the National Assembly Gate was that if the president doesn't assent to the Bill quickly enough, he should expect campers at the Official Residence. Not a bad idea at all. Bring your food, wrap up warmly and hopefully with the breaking of day.....?

And apologies for committing the cardinal offense of not taking pictures at both the rally and symposium. I,however, took 2 videos at the rally because my phone went dead- remember, I completely forgot that yesterday was the D-day. hope to upload the videos soon. AND I'll endeavour to source for some photos from other participants. Thanks in advance for your understanding and cooperation!


  1. i would say that it is a tragedy to see citizens refused entry into the National assembly. a place where people who purport to speak for the ordinary Nigerian has made a fortress of a few privileged. but those of us who believe that government has a role to play in promoting opportunity and prosperity for all its citizens must have looked on with dismay how a few uniformed armed men prevented the nations vulnerable citizens from having their voices heard. i would say the National assembly would cease from being of national significance if only the needs of the powerful majority are only discussed and the plight of the vulnerable minority is comfortably ignored. moreover most of our lawmakers have shown a disproportionate disposition to winning arguments rather than solving problems and our national debates tend to shy away from issues that demand we make difficult but often noble choices. we often play dumb over issues that don't directly affect us and instead exaggerate the degree to which policies that favor the rich and powerful are in the interest of National security. we must not forget that in a country like ours there will always be passionate arguments about what government should and should not do, at least this is the spirit of democracy. but better still things might be better if our leaders recognized that all of us including persons living with disabilities possess values and aspirations worthy of respect and recognition. i would implore our able leaders not to see governance issues as an us against them game or try to make distinctions on what can and cannot be compromised with every bill that comes to the national assembly. the Nigerian people recognize the difference between responsibility and irresponsibility. they beg their government to pay attention to those things that last than those that are fleeting. they can write their names in history with an indelible ink by passing the disability bill and the president accenting to it and posterity will remember them for standing up as true Nigerians for Nigerians.

  2. Apologies for the late response to your comment, Eze. I agree with most of your submission. It is indeed highly unfortunate that the spirit of democracy was not upheld during this particular protest. Why should citizens have to BEG their government to sit up and take responsibility?? That is something that I don't get!! This in a land where the commonwealth is more than enough to take care of everyone's basic needs? Do the so-called leaders in today's NGR even care about posterity judging them for their decisions and actions? There can not be any peace if there is injustice in the land. The rights of persons with disabilities have been trodden down for far too long. There has to be a 'give' anytime soon....