By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Development stakeholders in Akwa Ibom State have called for inclusion of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in governance and decision making in the state.
They made this known during the United State Agency for International Development (USAID) State2State four-day sensitivity and awareness training for representatives of MDAs, CSOs, as well as traditional and religious leaders in Eket on Tuesday.
They maintained that the PWDs peculiar needs need to be taken into account at every stage of the project cycle, adding that they have the right and capacity to contribute meaningfully to societal development and decisions affecting them.
Mr Friday Jacob from the Ministry of Information and Strategy, expressed concerns over the attitude of some Nigerians towards persons living with a disability.
“I have observed that persons with disabilities have been marginalized, stigmatised and discriminated in the past in the society. I have been considering persons with disabilities as people from the other world but this training, I have considered them as part of me.” Jacob said.
Jacob called on the public not to sideline or marginalise persons with disabilities, rather they should considered them as normal people in the society.
He urged the public to always assist persons with disabilities whenever the need arises, saying that persons with disabilities should not considered themselves as downtrodden or who had been sidelines in the society.
Also speaking, Miss Joy Ubong, a programme officer at Family Centre Initiative for Physically Challenged Persons appealed to the society not to pity or sympathise with persons with disabilities, rather should see them as people with abilities.
“The way society perceived persons with disabilities from the sympathy and that, persons with disabilities do not like.They preferred the empathy to the sympathy. The training has made us to be sensitive to the concerns of persons with disabilities,.” Ubong said.
Ubong called on the society to make programmes, policies such that it integrates or bring together persons with disabilities emphasizing that, “it shows that together we can do it better, there is no ability that has know disability,” she said.
The training was an immediate response to the knowledge gap on social inclusion of PWDs in governance reforms, policy development, fiscal planning, project design and stakeholders-participants to transfer the skills learned to members of their respective parastatal, organisations or communities within eight working days.
It was also meant to help the State2State project team develop the knowledge, the skills and attitudes necessary to ensure project initiatives effectively address the needs.