The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities highlights the fact that the majority of persons with disabilities live in conditions of poverty, and in this regard recognises the critical need to address the negative impact of poverty on such persons. 

Article 1 states that the purpose of the present convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity. Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. 

Where does Nigeria stand in all this? Except we deceive ourselves,  if we rate Nigeria on the score of ten, concerning the care of the physically challenged in our midst, the figure can be abysmally poor. We see them on our streets, in corners, even at our gateways and we feel mostly untouched because our conscience, collectively, has been scared and we are hardly touched by the plight of our fellow men and children and, even the suckling.

In better climes, the physically and mentally incapacitated received more attention than the people of sound minds and strong physique.

Promises have turned to propaganda in the face of abject poverty caused by unabating corruption.

A government that has failed to pay wages and salaries cannot stand up to be counted among sane societies. Bad governance had clouded every virtue that makes nations great.

Rev. Fr Anthony Akinwale had in his column on 29 October written: “Let’s  us stop talking about corruption, let’s do something about it, something intelligent, something within the bounds of the law and fairness, something devoid of selective sanctions, propaganda and media trials.

But “how do we replace a political arrangement that facilitates corruption with one that protects us from corruption”?

We dare say if there be one that can shield us from corruption, let it first help the poorest of the poor. And these ones can be found among the people with disabilities. These very ones have often been forsaken by families and rejected by societies, yet they remain our hope for a better society. We are to go beyond seeking a space that enables them to fulfill their potential to making them feel belonged as equal citizens and not second-class citizens in their fatherland.

Saturday 2 December is another opportunity to celebrate persons with disabilities.

The third of December every year is “World Day of Disability.” It is a day set aside by the United Nations to identify with persons with disabilities. This day falls on a Sunday, but the ceremony will come up on Saturday 2 December for convenience’s sake at the premises of St Mary’s Rehabilitation and Development Centre, Ipetumodu, Osun State.

This year’s celebration is tagged “leave no one behind.”

It focuses on transformation. Indeed, the society has to change to a sustainable and resilient one so that man can fit into God’s original plan for humanity.

That they have solicited for the support of government and individual is not new, what is unusual is that we the able-bodied should be concerned about their plight for it could have been us. That we can use all our faculties or recesses is not by our will power but by the grace of God.

They have stayed too long in the sun, wallowed too much in poverty and tortured severally by forces beyond their comprehension. Being  added to their grief and  pain is the lack of concern of the healthy and the wealthy. The shame of a society that further injures the crippled and eats and drinks from the tears of the helpless and hopeless. The saddest of all is that some of these incapacitated ones do not even know what a better society is. We are to help them lead a life of love and enjoy the peace thereof.

Agreed, we all cannot be available to care for them, but our money and goodwill can go far, particularly as the yuletide approaches.

Let them at least know it is Christmas – it means a lot to them and of course, you who still have the heart of flesh!

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