Dear Mr. President:
Please accept our warmest greetings. We will also like to use this opportunity to thank you, from the depth of our soul, for affording us a portion of your invaluable time yesterday. You could have been anywhere, but you elected to be with us. That too is a testimonial that you came to rescue the poor, of whom the disabled are chiefs.
Be that as it may, Mr. President, we couldn’t help but notice that irrespective of the promise made on March 8 to probe in the matter, there was no committee set up to do same. From our participatory, observational perspective, the April 11 meeting was not even on the Agenda for the day and it almost did not happen. Nevertheless, thanks ‘be to God’ that you intervened and we were able to meet, albeit we left with a heavy heart, because of the lack of a solution to the problem.
We will be remiss if we do not acknowledge the gains made in the quest to make the most marginalized inclusive of your pro-poor Agenda. When we pleaded with you on March 8 about the implementation of Section 5 of the Act that established the National Commission on Disabilities (NCD), you listened. We appreciate that you have easily mandated all Ministries and Agencies to adhere to hiring at least one qualified disabled person, albeit we would have wished for a Public Policy Statement. However, LIPA took the lead by hiring two, followed by MICAT. We pray that other entities will follow suit. Thank you, Mr. President.
Mr. President, since our protest, starting from the one at your house on March 4, we have presented our petition on two tiers. The first and foremost being the reversal of the reinstatement of the three Directors at the NCD and we recommended it because the trio, irrespective of serving the community for eight years and mismanaging about 3 million dollars, have brought no improvement to the lives of persons with disabilities. They are unequal to the task and are prone to self-aggrandizement. You need no other evidence of their ineptitude and disservice than the ones you see daily. You drive by the Nigerian House, VAMOMA house, and Crown Hill and see the blind begging for alms along with their kids who will be public charges in the future. Then there are the physically impaired in wheelchairs under the hot scorching sun, panhandling for their daily bread and how about the naked malnourished mental health people who sleep on the streets and eat from garages and the so-called Zogos reeling from the side effect of Drug-Induced psychosis. Amen Mr. President, what other proof do you need?
Your Excellency, we understand your empathy towards our race and as you said “you’re sorry for them and don’t want to fire a disabled person,” however, you don’t have to fire them. Mr. President, with all due respect, we are talking about integrity here and not sympathy. You have lives to improve and a nation to build, the last thing you need is to feel sorry for people who are not sorry for their fellow men. However, if you insist on keeping them employed, something we are equally championing for all disabled, we kindly recommend their transfer to the Ministry of Education, where there is a Director for Special Education slot for a disabled and three assistant directors’ slots for a blind, deaf and crippled. Better still, you could kindly transfer them to Lotto. Pursuant to the same Act, three disabled should serve as members of the Board. At your will and pleasure, those slots could be theirs.
Meanwhile, Mr. President, in our meeting on the 11th, you asked for a way forward in appointing new Directors at the Commission. We then told you that our leaders are traditionally vied for through a competitive vetting process encompassing two deaf, two blind, two crippled and an emissary from the Civil Society. When the candidate/s is/are vetted, the names are then taken to the Vice President who then makes the recommendation to you for an appointment. “There’s nothing for us, without us.”
Lastly, Mr. President, your predecessor pioneered her Agenda for Transformation. An Agenda championed by the three mentioned Directors at the NCD, which failed the disabled people miserably. That is why we cannot risk our pro-poor Agenda being purged by UPist ideologues. It is our fervent prayers that frontline militants and political icons of the invincible Disabled League of the Mighty Coalition for Democratic Change, who stood the test of time and dared to crusade against their former custodians, champion the cause.
In closing, Mr. President, we pray that you listen to your people, for the voice of the people is the voice of God. We love you and want you to succeed; therefore, we will not sit by idly and fail in our sphere. “In the cause of the people, the struggle must end.”
Rally T. Fallah,
Co-chair for Mobilization
Samuel Mawen Sumo Dean, Sr.