Disability Journey Initiative, an NGO, has called for the inclusion of Persons With Disability (PWD) in national development plans to ensure equal rights, privileges, obligations and opportunities before the law.
Mr Greg Simon, the Chief Executive Officer of the organisation, made the appeal in an interview in Abuja.
Simon said the plight of PWDs in the country was further aggravated by lack of appropriate laws to ensure their full social integration into the society through provision of their economic, social and educational needs, among others.
He said the Disability Discrimination Bill before the National Assembly would ensure inclusion of PWD in nation building while realising their full responsibilities as citizens, if passed and accented into law.
“In Nigeria we are seen as second class citizens, and a lot of people think we have nothing to offer to the society. However, we want to see a society where every child and adult with any form of disability can rise above their limitations to affect the society they live in. We want to be involved in national development at all levels of government; we are educated and highly intellectual in all fields of profession and can contribute to nation building. Stroke survivors and victims of polio could be left with physical disabilities but they still have their mental faculty and speech intact,’’ he said.
Simon added that with a law in place, the rights of PWD would also be protected against discrimination at work places and other public centres.
He decried the act of some parents in the northern part of the country using children with disability as means of making money for the family through street begging.
Simon further called on state governments to adopt policies that would stop such acts and penalise parents engaging in such act to serve as a deterrent.
He noted that persons living with disability experience marital discrimination which was worrisome and results to psychological and emotional torture.
Simon appealed to parents and guardians to support their children if they decide to marry persons with disability, adding that they are emotional beings capable of caring, loving and reproducing.