A COMMUNIQUE OF A CONSULTATIVE forum WITH PERSONS WITH DISABILITY (PWDS) HOSTED BY YOUTH ALIVE FOUNDATION
Held on 20th June, 2019 at Chelsea Hotel, Abuja
The Consultative forum with Persons with Disability (PWDs) was successfully hosted by Youth Alive Foundation (YAF) at Chelsea Hotel, Central Business District, Abuja between 10am – 4pm on Thursday 20th June, 2019. The forum brought together civil society actors, disabled peoples organizations, students, academics and the media to deliberate on the strategic theme of “Corruption, Accountability and Disability: Understanding the Connections”.
The meeting was organized as a major activity under the disability intervention of the YAF’s DFID funded Strengthening Youth Participation Against Corruption (Y-PAC) project. Corruption drains resources for social programming and limits citizens’ confidence in public institutions. PWDs are more vulnerable than others to the adverse impacts of corruption. They experience various barriers that hinder their full and effective participation in society on equal basis with others. Such barriers include access to education, healthcare, public facilities and negative stereotypes. PWDs face physical and attitudinal barriers to participation in education, the labor market and development processes in general. Combined with the consequences of corruption, this makes PWDs more vulnerable. The consultative forum with Persons with Disability (PWD) was aimed at gaining firsthand knowledge of the challenges faced by PWDs and how corruption fuels these issues. The deliverables from the consultative meeting will contribute to the disability interventions on the Y-PAC project and serve as a programming and advocacy tool.
The one-day meeting had over 70 people in attendance. Participants composed of young people and experts were drawn from various organizations among which are: Center for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), Nigeria Association for the Blind, The Albino Foundation, Inclusive Friends Association, Association of Deaf Persons, Cedar Seed Foundation, Persons with Disabilities Action Network (PEDANET). The meeting had 3 major sessions which included a paper presentation and 2 Panel Discussions.
Paper Presentation: Dissecting the National Disability Right Law for Effective CSOs Engagement and Addressing Corruption in Nigeria.
This paper presentation was delivered by Dr. Adebukola Adebayo; a Disability rights advocate. The session explored the major contents of the Disability Law some of which included awareness raising on disability issues, access to infrastructure and prohibition of all forms of abuse and sanctions for violators of the disability law. The sessions which was interactive also had a session for questions and answers. The session exposed some issues and also highlighted some observations and recommendations; They include:
The Disability Law sets the ethics and standards on how the affairs of PWDs will be addressed.
Failure to implement the National disability law is failure to comply with globally accepted ethics and standards of managing disability affairs and thus could be termed as corruption and a doorway to discrimination of PWDs.
Some PWDs are themselves key actors in the entire corruption episode. As such, PWDs should not perceive corruption as an external element to the disability community.
Corruption must be engaged with a twin-track approach; as an internal element and as an external issue. Corruption should also be dealt with as a cause of disability, and also understood as one of the domains where corruption currently thrives in Nigeria.
For example, procurement of Assistive aids for PWDs is a major space where corruption occurs.
The paper concludes that PWDs and their organizations must build capacity on issues of corruption and anticorruption strategies; collaborate with mainstream anticorruption movements and support the process of developing disability-sensitive tools for anticorruption advocacy, monitoring and other forms of engagement.
Youth Panel: Corruption in the Education Sector and its impact on Persons with Disabilities in Nigeria
This session was facilitated by Mmanti Umoh; a management consultant, rep of the common wealth youth council and a person with disability. The session was composed of 5 discussants who were all youths. They shared their stories which captured challenges faced by PWDs in the Education, health, socio-economic, sports and Transportation sectors.
Key highlights/observations/Recommendations from this session include:
The Education sector is plagued with so many corrupt issues. For example, Institutional issues and poor implementation of some policies which affect PWDs in Tertiary institutions as well as diversion of funds and budgets allocated for PWDs.
Access to buildings and school facilities presents a challenge for PWDs in tertiary institutions.
There is little publicity in the mainstream media about disability inclusion.
In the sports sector, PWDs are unable to access funding and resources.
Expert Panel: Corruption, Accountability and the Disability Community in Nigeria
This session was facilitated by Rasak Adekoya; a social development expert and a person with disability who advocates for inclusive development for the blind. The session was aimed at exploring how corruption affects PWDs across all spheres of the Nigerian society. The session also x-rayed structural responsiveness for PWDs. The panel was composed of 5 experts who engaged in critical discussions around the aim of the session. Recommendations from this session include:
The Health sector is unresponsive to the needs of PWDs. An example is the lack of interpreters and aids in health facilities. Interventions around this will alleviate the issues faced by PWDs.
PWDs face major discrimination in the electoral system. For example, besides the priority voting system, INEC’s provisions for accessible voting materials and other inclusive electoral practices do not cover the entire population of voters with disabilities. Also, the INEC data does not fully capture disability credentials.
There is a reasonable degree of lack of transparency and accountability within and among organizations of persons with disabilities in Nigeria. This is responsible for regular crises and instability in the disability community.
There is low awareness on constitutional and human rights issues among PWDs; thus making it difficult for them to seek legal protection when their rights are violated.
There is low level of collaborative efforts between Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) and mainstream CSOs in the anticorruption movement. This is responsible for the low level of awareness on corruption issues, and poor participation of PWDs in the anticorruption movements.
There is poor or inadequate accessing and utilization of the 2% UBE funds set-aside for special and inclusive basic education. This is responsible for the increasing number of out-of-school children with disabilities in Nigeria which is currently put at between 3-5 million.
There is inadequate data on disability issues and persons with disabilities at national, subnational and local levels. This hinders inclusion of PWDs in development policies and programmes at design and planning stages. Disability issues are thus often taken as after-thought issues; thereby reducing prospects for inclusion, access and participation.
The National Disability Law and similar laws and policies at national and state levels should be fully implemented in order to protect the rights of PWDs and reduce their exposure to the negative consequences of corruption.
OPDs and PWDs must build capacity on the use of the FOI Act to demand accountability from duty bearers regarding all programs and activities involving the implementation of all aspects of disability laws and policies at national, subnational and local levels.
Youth Alive Foundation (YAF) and other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) should collaborate with DPOs and PWDs in general towards addressing the capacity gaps existing among PWDs in issues relating to corruption, anticorruption and how it connects with disabilities. When PWDs become armed with the right knowledge and information, they will be better positioned to become active citizens in the fight against corruption.
PWDs and OPDs should increase their advocacy for Open budgets across all sectors including the Education sector as well as probing if such budgets are disability inclusive.
Sports should be considered as a tool for inclusion of PWDs within and beyond formal institutions. Adequate funding and other resources should be made available and accessible to disabled sports men and women in this regards.
PWDs must have the right representation in Government to advocate for their issues and rights. Therefore, there is need to strengthen the capacities of PWDs on governance issues for effective representation and advocacy.
The charity model of disability contributes to the discrimination faced by PWDs; therefore, the social and rights-based model must be advocated for because it deals with structural issues faced by PWDs.
More publicity and awareness on Disability rights is required in order to reduce various corrupt practices perpetuated by other persons against PWDs.
Disability-sensitive Anti-corruption and disability-inclusion subjects should be mainstreamed into primary and secondary schools curriculum.
Provision of assistive tools and aids in should be prioritized across all levels of education.
The rights of PWDs to study academic courses of their choice should be respected by tertiary institutions rather than forcing them to study special education.
In accordance to the National (and other state-level) Disability Laws and Policies, appropriate Sanctions should be imposed on perpetuators of all forms of discrimination, abuse and other corrupt practices against PWDs across all facets of society.
Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs) must be transparent and accountable to its members in terms of financial and programmatic processes. This will facilitate reduction of corrupt practices within the disability community and strengthen their capacity to reduce the negative impacts of external corrupt practices perpetuated against PWDs.
PWDs must be informed about constitutional processes and be exposed to free and/or subsidized legal support services in handling their rights-based issues and/or other business matters so that they are effectively protected.
PWDs must understand the intricacies about the electoral process and be armed with the right information and capacity in advocating for disability friendly electoral laws and policies.
OPDs and PWDs should work with mainstream anticorruption CSOs to develop Disability-sensitive anticorruption advocacy, monitoring and capacity-building tools.
Center for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD),
Nigeria Association for the Blind,
The Albino Foundation,
Inclusive Friends Association,
Association of Deaf Persons,
Cedar Seed Foundation,
Persons with Disabilities Action Network (PEDANET).
National Association of Persons Living with Physical Disabilities
Kanawa Educational Foundation for the Disabled.
Akwa Ibom State Association of the Deaf.
Federal College of Education Zuba.
Caring Heart Show
Joint National Associations of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD)
Haly Hope Foundation
Rubies Total Care
University of Abuja Students with Disabilities
Human and Organizational Resources Development Centre (HORDC)
Bayero University Kano (BUK)
Sight Savers International
Youth Alive Foundation (YAF) appreciates all participants for their constructive inputs in the deliberations which produced critical observations and recommendations which will guide future programming on disability issues.
Dr Udy Okon