The President of the Association for Comprehensive Empowerment of Nigerians with Disability, Mr. Cosmos Okoli, on Wednesday said that its members had resolved to participate more actively in future elections.
Okoli said ASCEND had consequently resolved to endorse candidates that it believed would cater for members’ interests and mobilise support for them.
He said people with disability in Nigeria had been generally neglected, in spite of their efforts to make their impact felt in the society.
“Persons with disability in Nigeria have been crying against marginalisation in the scheme of things. We have carried out peaceful demonstrations, picketed banks, got senators to experience disability by convincing them to live a day on wheelchairs, while some were blindfolded for a day,” he said.
He added that although the lawmakers experienced a bit of what people with disability go through, the attitude of government and of the generality of Nigerians had not changed towards persons with disability.
“Has anyone wondered why Nigerians with disability remain the poorest of the poorest and why there has not been any person with disability elected or appointed into any high political office in Nigeria? Certainly, it is not because we do not have persons with disability qualified to hold such offices. This can only be attributed to stigmatisation, and discrimination we suffer in this clime,” he explained.
Okoli added that in the light of the situation, ASCEND had decided that, starting this year’s Anambra State governorship election, it would mobilise votes for candidates it believed would champion their cause.
“In line with the theme for the 2013 International Day of Persons Living with Disability, which says, ‘Break Barriers and Open Door: To Realise an Inclusive Society for All’, ASCEND has resolved to make votes of persons with disability count in all elections,” he said.