2023: Persons With Disabilities Endorse Anyim’s Presidential Aspiration
The 2023 presidential aspiration of Senator Anyim Pius Anyim received a major boost on Friday night when the community of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) unreservedly endorsed him as their candidate.
The endorsement took place at an iIftar meeting, hosted by Anyim in Abuja to break fast with members of the community.
Iftar is the meal eaten after sunset to break fast during Ramadan.
Endorsing Anyim, a frontline presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the National Chairman of the PWDs, Abdullahi Akilu from Kaduna State, who noted that the former Senate President was the first aspirant to host them, said: “Come 2023, we will give you our block vote. We are not only going to deliver you on the day of the PDP primaries, we will deliver you at the general election and ensure that you become Nigeria’s president.
“Nigeria needs you at this critical moment to govern this country. We are happy that someone of your calibre is sitting with us tonight, eating with us and laughing with us. We will not forget and we will ensure that our votes speak for us loud and clear on Election Day.”
In response, a visibly elated Anyim who personally served food to most of the 38 PWDs who attended the meeting assured them that if he is elected president in the 2023 elections, he will make their welfare a priority.
Addressing the delegates from the 36 states of the federation, Anyim, who said ordinarily, he would hold such a meeting privately, said, however, the circumstance of today demands otherwise.
“Now that I am running for president, permit me to do this in public. This night is very significant for me,” he said.
The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) assured that if elected president in the 2023 elections, he will maximise the welfare and wellbeing of Persons with Disabilities.
“I believe that until the least of us is recognised, the rest of us will not be fulfilled and if elected President next year, I will make sure that everyone with disability that has competence will be employed and appointed into public office. When I become President, I will appoint a PWD as an Adviser,” Anyim assured.
The PDP frontrunner, who lamented that the country has not been able to maximise the abundant talents in the PWD community, vowed that he would strengthen the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) and ensure that the Act establishing it is domesticated in all states of the federation as requested by his guests.
“When I came here, I met two of my professional colleagues. In fact, one of them is a lawyer with 22 years in the bar. So, PWDs are educated, resourceful people that have a lot to contribute to the society and helping in taking the country to the desired destination. I will maximise these capacities when I am elected president next year.
“My conviction that until the least of us is recognised, the rest of us will not be fulfilled is the reason why I chose this night to break fast with this special group.
“It was under the PDP administration when I was the Senate President that we came out with the policy that every public building must have a ramp for ease of access for the PWDs.
“We escalated policies aimed at easing the difficulties faced by the PWDs when I was the SGF and as president I will deepen the conversation and bring inclusiveness to bear on the leadership of the country.
“I know that the Disabilities Commission is not working as it should right now. But I can assure you that when I am elected president by the special grace of God, it will start working again. I will not only empower the commission but also ensure that it is decentralised. We will establish the commission in all states of the federation. We will make the Commission to work and every segment will get due attention.
“But the idea of the meeting tonight is not just for me to tell you to support my aspiration. It is also for you to tell me what you want from me when I go into government.”
Responding, the PWDs asked for inclusiveness, particularly women with disabilities.
“We are marginalised and women with disabilities need special attention. Education has become very expensive in the country and out of the reach of the PWDs who are mostly poor. We are pleading that education for the PWDs be made free in all public schools,” Ms Michelle Obong Joseph, a lawyer from Rivers State, requested.
Christopher Okeke from Anambra State said Anyim’s relationship with the PWDs goes way back and said he was not surprised that he was the first presidential aspirant to felicitate with them.
“We thank you for the good things you have been doing for us. You are not only a friend to the community of people with special needs, you are a father. You may have forgotten. But when you visited the Oji River home of the PWDs in 2004, you gifted a visually-impaired N1 million. That is how large-hearted you are. We have not forgotten,” Okeke said.
Though a Disabilities Commission chaired by Dr. Hussaini Kangiwa was established in August 2020 following the approval of the appointment of executive members by President Muhammadu Buhari in line with the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, the PWDs complained that not much was happening and called for decentralisation and requested that the Commission should have offices in each State for effective coordination.
Speaking further, Comrade Obruche Isaac Omon from Delta State lamented that the All Progressives Congress (APC) government has created more PWDs in the country.
“When the PDP was in power, there were 27 million PWDs in the country but under the APC administration, we now have over 44 million PWDs because of insecurity and poverty,” he lamented, reiterating his belief that once in office, Anyim would reverse the ugly trend.
Senator Anyim thanked them for the opportunity given him to break fast with them, their prayers and assurances of support and assured that they will have a special seat in Aso Rock for the victory jig.
Others who attended the meeting include Dr. Okey Mbionwu, the desk officer at the national secretariat, Apostle Olusola Hunter (Lagos), Kadau M. Kachaa (Borno), Batti B. Bamaka (Adamawa), Umar Ali Goro (Gombe), Salisu Garba usman (Yobe), Kabiru Bello (Kano), Yakubu Ahmed (Katsina), Alhaji Shehu Umar (Zamfara), Ekeoma Samuel (Abia).