As mentioned last week, commemoration of the International Week of the Deaf took place in Abuja, Nigeria.
The main event: press conference and rally took place today. The turn-out was disappointingly low this year. One of the main reasons was the fuel scarcity that hampered a lot of people's ease of movement. Apparently, a lot of people faced hardship and that seems to have affected attendance this year. The attitude was not as buzzing last year but with members of the Deaf Community coming together, there's an atmosphere of delight in seeing each other again. I saw delegates and attendees from places as far as Lagos, Zamfara and Yola.
This year's theme is 'Sign Bilingualism and Empowerment are Human Rights of the Deaf'. Here, we are encouraging the use of Sign Language as a language in its own right and as the first mother tongue for the Deaf. Although Nigeria has been a signatory to Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, nothing practical has been done on ground.
Human rights of the Deaf has not been given any legal backing as the Disability Bill has not been signed into law (yet). The theme was chosen to highlight the importance of/and appealing for the advocating for the rights of the deaf in the society especially in policy making.
The bane of the development of Persons With Disabilities in Nigeria is the use of JONAPWD by development agencies. The leadership structure in that so-called organisation is very weak and non-representative of deaf people in particular. It has been frustrating because deaf people has been left out of the deliberations and are not even consulted. Even more worrying is that even after the failed DFID projects which has not done anything to positively impact the lives of Persons Living With Disabilities, development agencies like USAID and UNDP do not consult with deaf people to find out how the projects can be inclusive and benefit the Deaf Community.
Corruption among the current leadership of JONAPWD who have deemed it not fit to give account of the millions of dollars in aid pumped in by development agencies have continued unabetted...
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