Disability not our choice, but God’s will – Ezra Bombom
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is a day observed and promoted by the United Nations, since 1992, the aim of which was to encourage a better understanding of persons affected with disabilities.
The idea was also to come together by helping to make people more aware of their rights, dignity and well-being of persons with disabilities, as well as raise awareness about the benefits of integrating persons with disabilities in every aspects of political, social and cultural life.
Celebrating the International World Day of Persons with Disabilities in Jos, on Thursday, chairman of The Blind, Ezra Bombom, said they have gone through many challenges and discrimination.
He said, “It is not our choice that we find ourselves the way we are; it’s God’s will; and so we want to be treated as equal with other normal people in the society.”
Mr Bombom called on the state government to provide them with subvention to all their associations so that it would help them attend to some of their programs.
Disability Day is not concerned exclusively with either mental or physical disabilities, but rather encompasses all known disabilities.
Speaking also, the acting chairman, Plateau State Disability Rights Commission, Bitrus K. Hosea, said the Commission started in 1976 at the General Assembly of the United Nations and, 5 years later, the decision was taken and the actual year of Disabled Persons was spent to contemplate the hardships of the disabled.
“However, the opportunities of the disabled could be equalized on how to ensure the disabled take part fully in community life by enjoying all of the rights and benefits that non-disabled have,” he said.
According to him, another issue was his administration would go about preventing disabilities from touching people in the first place, which so much of the talk was about the viruses and other illnesses that could lead to various kinds of disabilities.
He commended Governor Simon Lalong, the Speaking of the State House of Assembly, Hon Peter Azi, for passage of the Disability Rights Law in 2005 in the state.
Mr. Hosea explained further that the passage of the law gave rise to the establishment of the Disability Rights Commission in plateau state, and was the first in Nigeria and Africa.
He said the theme of this year’s celebration was, “Achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) For The Future we want,” and commended the governor for supporting and sponsoring a delegation from plateau to attend the United Nations 9th Session Conference of state parties.
Mr. Hosea appealed to the governor to constitute the membership of the Disability Rights Commission with at least two permanent members and chairman – all of them being from the community of persons with disabilities, and also called on the governor to lift the embargo on employment in the state.
According to him, “This is very, very effective only on persons with disabilities,” adding that, “disabled are not given the chance as bonafide citizens of the state, and if this is done, we shall not feel discriminated or sidelined.
The chairman further appealed to government to assist the association with a functional vehicle to each of its chapters, and to also consider them for monthly or yearly subvention as their counterparts.
He said about 33 names have been compiled by the association for teaching positions in primary schools out of the over 5 thousands to be employed, and also appealed to government to give them full autonomy.
The plateau state governor, Simon Lalong, said it has made a deliberate plan to ensure that, persons with disabilities in the state are carried along in the act of governance; “and we will ensure that recognition is given to competence as we open up space for participation in the political process and bureaucracy of government across all tiers and levels of government.”
He also assured them that his administration will continue to support and strengthen the Disability Rights Commission so that they could discharge their statutory responsibilities.
In another response, the chairman of the occasion, who was the NUJ Chairman, Mr. Yakubu Taddy, commended them for being a “shining star” for the state and Nigeria at large; saying, “and we are proud of you; what the normal people cannot do, you do it – even for winning sports games.”
Mr. Taddy said there is huge unutilized potential in each of them, and challenged the government to appreciate the disabled for what they are and urged them not to look down on themselves and feel bad.