REPORT OF THE ADVOCACY VISIT MADE BY ANAMBRA STATE JONAPWD ADVOCACY TEAM TO THE SPECIAL ADVISER TO THE GOVERNOR ON DISABILITY MATTERS ON 18th SEPTEMBER, 2020 AT GOVERNMENT HOUSE ANNEX, AWKA.

The visit was made with support from the the European Union ROLAC project in Anambra state, and aimed at sharing with the special adviser on Disability Matters on his responsibilities as indentified in the 2018 Anambra State Disabilities Rights Law.

Reading the advocacy brief, the chairman of JONAPWD who led the team, Comr. Ugochukwu Okeke, thanked the special adviser for granting the request for the visit. He also appreciated his immense contributions to the development of Anambra state, especially his strong commitment to promoting inclusion of persons with disabilities in every sphere of governmental activities in the state.

Recalling the passage of the Disabilities Rights Bill on the 13th day of September, 2018 by the state Assembly and its subsequent signage into law by the governor on 18th December, 2018, he stated that, that has made Anambra state the first and only state in the south east to domesticate the law.

Going further, he explained that the focus of the visit was to point out to the special adviser on his responsibilities in the implementation of Anambra State Disabilities Rights Law (ASDRL) 2018, which are:
-> To advise His Excellency on the need for the establishment of Disabilities Rights Commission. Section 3(1) of ASDRL 2018.
-> To advise His Excellecy on his responsibilities as stipulated in sections 5, 9(2), 15, and 23(7) of ASDRL 2018, etc.
-> To ensure that no approval shall be given for any plan of a public building if it does not make provisions for accessibility facilities, section 23(5b) of ASDRL 2018, as a member of Bureau of Public Procurement in the state.
-> To provide persons with disabilities with pro-bono lawyers without conditions who will defend them against harmful treatments and discrimination, section 20 of ASDRL 2018 as the Director of Disability and Human Rights Services.

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He expressed his trust and prayers that the special adviser would use his good office to ensure strict compliance with the provisions of the Anambra State Disability Rights Law 2018, in the areas of sections 3(1), 5, 9(2), 15, 23(7), by providing His Excellency the necessary information that would guide him to establish the Disabilities Rights Commission, and as well his other functions as stipulated in the law. With regards to section 23(5b), he also prayed him to always insist on total compliance to the provision of accessibility facilities in any public building plans before awarding any contract by the BPP, while in section 20, to assist in making pro-bono lawyers available to defend persons with disabilities without conditions.

He listed the activities to be carried out in the project to include:
->Sensitization workshop for JONAPWD members on key provisions of the Disability Rights Law, 2018.
->Advocacy visit to identified service providers/relevant MDAs
->Sensitization meetings with justice and support, service providers / relevant MDAs
->Data collection /Analysis /Reporting
->Advocacy visit to Local Government Transition Chairmen or Budget Officers
->Result Tracking

Finally, stating that JONAPWD Anambra is the only umbrella of all Associations (clusters) of Disabled People’s Organization (DPOs) with presence in all the 21 local government area of the state which has also gained recognition at both state and local government level as a civil society organization supporting the welfare and inclusion of persons with disabilities in Anambra state, he said that it has existed for over a decade in the state and has been at the fore-front of advocacy for the passage and assent to the law that promotes the rights of persons with disabilities, advocating for inclusive laws and policies, and engaging with all sectors and stakeholders in the society to enhance social inclusion of PWDs and currently carrying out advocacy for the implementation of Anambra State Disabilities Rights Law (2018) with support from European Union’s RoLAC program in Anambra state.

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Responding, the SPAD said he had a meeting with the governor who had asked the Attorney General to brief him on the steps to be taken for the establishment of the Disability Rights Commission, emphasizing that the governor is one person who is passionate about making and implementing policies that would enhance the welfare of PWDs in the state. He stated that the United Nations has recommended the standards for the provision of laws protecting PWDs which Anambra state has domesticated.

According to him, the government is doing everything possible to enhance the welfare of PWDs which he has started with the signage of the Disability Rights Bill into law. He restated the governor’s desire that other states would come to Anambra state to learn how to take care of persons with disabilities.

He also appreciated the EU RoLAC project in Anambra state, stating that history will never forget their contributions to the fight for access to justice for PWDs.

He said that the Office of the Governor on Disability Matters had commennced a sensitization tour of the 21 local governments in the state, with the hope that things would change at the end. Disclosing to the team that the committee set up by the governor, made up of executive members with the mandate of ensuring that PWDs are equipped with the necessary tools that would help them stand at par with their counterparts in other parts of the world, he re-emphasized the government’s desire to ensure that all PWDs in Anambra state not only acquire education, but get a job at the end of their studies.

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Acknowledging the fact that things cannot be said to be perfect now, he declared that progress is being made, encouraging the team to carry the sensitization to every part of the state.

In her vote of thanks on behalf of the team, Miss Victoria Okonkwo thanked the SPAD for his efforts in enhancing the welfare of PWDs in the state, praying the good Lord to bless him and give him the grace to carry out the visions he has for PWDs in Anambra state.

High points of the visit were the presentation of the advocacy brief by the chairman of JONAPWD.

Making up the team were Comr. Ugochukwu Okeke, JONAPWD Chairman and Project Director; Miss Ncheta Nwanokwara, JONAPWD financial secretary and Program officer; Mr. Amobi Nwagwu, JONAPWD treasurer; Hon. Joseph Collins, SA to the governor on sign language; Miss Victoria Okonkwo-team member; Miss Elizabeth Chinenye Ikele, project Monitoring and Evaluation Office
r; Miss Chidimma Ajemba, team member.

Ikele Elizabeth C.

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