PWDs appeal to C’ River Govt to conduct LG polls

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By Christian Njoku

Persons Living with Disabilities (PWDs), under the auspices of TAF Africa, an NGO,  has appealed to the Government of Cross River to fix a date for Local Government Election in the state.

This was disclosed by Dr. Jake Epelle, Convener, TAF Africa, on Saturday in Calabar during a workshop to train leaders of various disability groups on skillful and impactful advocacy to build their capacities.

Epelle said that it was time for the present administration in Cross River to put out a date and time for the LG polls.

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He said that the election would help Gov. Bassey Otu in his roadmap to building a virile state.

“We chose Cross River because we want to support the state through our project to have inclusive election, governance and Civil Society Organisations, (CSOs) that will champion the cause of disability inclusion in its entirety.

“The opportunities that will come out of this effort will go to PWDs with equity, because I can assure you that if PWDs are not united, we will get nothing  In fact, some politicians will take advantage of the crisis and do nothing for us.

“Although TAF Africa has limited resources, with our effective management and goodwill, we can get a lot of things done as it concerns equipment for PWDs for the LG polls in the state,” he said.

Epelle maintained that they wanted Cross River to be the first state to have a concrete and inclusive framework that would drive governance from the grassroot.

On his part, Prof. Anthony Owan-Enoh, Secretary to the Government of Cross River said he was willing to link PWDs to the state government for them to get easy access.

Owan-Enoh noted that disability does not mean lack of ability because for every element of disability, there is so much potential and ability behind it.

“I have offered to be an ambassador for the PWDs in Cross River, to speak for them and help them get what they deserve.

“PWDs should come out of their shells, forget about their conditions and identify their potential like every other humans and contribute their best for the development of the society.

Similarly, Prof. Mike Oshie, Chairman Cross River Independent Electoral Commission (CROSIEC) said disability does not mean lack of capacity,  adding that many PWDs in the commission had delivered when given opportunities.

“We have PWDs as staff in the commission and they participate during the elections.  For the equipment needed for them, we will work with TAF Africa to help us in that area.

“The commission already has an electoral guideline but with this new development I have sent it to PWDs to review for us to adopt for a better LG poll,” he noted.

Some of the PWDs who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) said the workshop was enriching and would help them push better towards inclusion and integration of PWDs in the society.

They said apart from learning to live as contributors in the society and not like liabilities, they had learnt to engage in diplomatic advocacy to achieve their aims instead of resorting to violence.

NAN reports that TAF Africa, formerly The Albino Foundation is an umbrella body of PWDs at the national and international level for advocacy through programme designs. (NAN)

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