Stakeholders laud US Agency, advocate inclusion for PWDs in Gombe
Stakeholders in Gombe State, on Wednesday, advocated the inclusion of People with Disabilities (PWD) in all sectors to ensure equity in the society.
The stakeholders shared their views in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Gombe during a training programme on disability inclusion awareness.
The training was organised by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its state Accountability, Transparency and Effectiveness (State2State) Activity.
The stakeholders commended USAID for the training which they described as eye-opening and a perspective-changing engagement that would impact positively on PWDs across the state.
They said PWDs in Gombe State should be given opportunities to express their potential by removing all the barriers they encountered in accessing the services enjoyed by others in society.
Mrs Zainab Tijani, a lecturer at the Department of Business Administration, Gombe State University, said PWDs were not different from anyone in society, and that they deserved all the services enjoyed by people without disabilities.
Tijani said PWDs should be given access to education, social services, health care and other services in line with the policy of inclusion.
She said PWDs were not made the way they were by their own decisions and should not stigmatised.
She said the society had not been fair to the PWDs and “the worst thing is the psychological impact created by the society; a PWDs will not feel that he or she is disabled until you make them feel disabled.”
Tijani commended USAID for the training, noting that with the knowledge she had acquired so far, “I am now an advocate for PWDs; in fact I see myself as one of them now and I will always protect their interest anywhere.”
Mr Dumo Massa, the State Desk Officer, USAID State2State on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Ministry of Water Resources, Gombe State, said inclusion of PWDs in all sectors of the society should be prioritised.
Massa said the perception that PWDs could not do certain things was not wrong, adding that “PWDs have the ability to compete at any level if given the right platform.
“Today, my perception has been changed by this training and I will start paying attention to PWDs.
“So, I urge all citizens and organizations to change all negative perceptions about PWDs and treat them with dignity and respect that are given to others.”
Mr Abdullahi Sani, a Principal Inspector of Taxes with the Gombe State Internal Revenue Service, who is also a participant, said as a physically challenged person, he had been an advocate of inclusion for PWDs.
According to Sani, being a PWD does not make anyone less human and with the right education and training, PWDs can achieve their dreams and help develop the state and country.
In his welcome address, the State Team Lead of State2State, Mohammed Abubakar, said the workshop was to create awareness on the inclusion of people living with disabilities who were often neglected in society.
NAN reports that the four-day training has 40 participants which include Gender and Social Inclusion Desk Officers at MDAs as well as PWDs and media.