Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons With Disabilities, Mr James David Lalu has advocated for the establishment of the West African Council on disabilities for the inclusion of PWDs in the Sub-region.

This was coming at a 3-Day brainstorming session of Experts in Disability matters organized by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held recently in Abuja.
Head Media and Publicity of the commission, Mbanefo JohnMichaels quoted the executive secretary to have stated that the initiative to organize various stakeholders within the region to forge a common front that will enshrine the legality of inclusivity of persons with disabilities in State affairs across West Africa is commendable.

The Commission’s helmsman harped on governments’ political will as a primary condiment to institute legislations on inclusion of Persons With Disabilities among member States of West Africa.

“We must show true commitments in the implementation of laws that safeguard the rights and dignity of PWDs”,he said.

He, however, decried that PWDs constitute 15% of a population of over 300 million people in West Africa and yet do not have an institutionalized council to engender the inclusivity of Persons with Disabilities.

“The formation of West African Council on disabilities is long overdue and the time is ripe for all hands to be on Deck”.

He said countries have been operating in silos and making it difficult for visible and tangible results in the advocacy for the inclusion of PWDs but, “there will be collaborative efforts to change the narrative” he stated.

On behalf of Nigeria, the ES moved three motions namely: Harmonization of regional disability policies and strategies for rehabilitation and equalization of opportunities in the community; establishment of a task force consisting of 7 member States to be chaired by Nigeria; and to establish Ecowas Council for disability affairs or Ecowas agency for Persons With Disabilities.

Furthermore, the Chairman Regional meeting of Disability inclusion in West Africa, Miss Esther Akua Gyamfi from Republic of Ghana, reiterated the readiness of the technical working group to give maximum support to the motion inclusion in the ECOWAS region.

Ms. Selena Hodzic Imerovich in her paper presentation highlighted the recent findings obtained from Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, Guinea and other States in the Sub-region, and equally made available the Action plan to create the framework for inclusion of PWDs in the region.

The Head, Social Affairs, ECOWAS region, Dr. Alves Dialmada Jokge intimated the meeting that the resolution of the 15 country delegates will form the policy document that will be presented for ratification of United Nations protocol on disability.

Also present at the meeting was the Minister for Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen who pledged the ministry’s support in protecting the rights of women with disabilities across Board.

At the close of the meeting, the delegates unanimously adopted a technical working group that will ratify the West African Council on disability inclusion.

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