The disability community in Ghana, led by the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations (GFD), is disappointed in President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, for what they call tokenism approach to disability matters.
The federation is disappointed that only one person with disability was included in the 260 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs), nominated by the president recently, despite many persons with disabilities putting themselves up for the positions.
In press statement released by the federation, it says, “We wish to express our uttermost disappointment at the current Government’s seemingly disinterest in the meaningful participation of Persons with Disabilities in the general governance of this country.”
It further accuses the government of thinking that one is enough for persons with disabilities in everything; and, therefore, ignoring all calls to give more persons with disabilities opportunities in the governance of the country, since the appointment of one person with disability as Oti Reginal Minister.
The organization adds that, since one person with disability was appointed in the early part of this year as the Minister for Oti region, government seems to have taken an unfriendly decision that persons with disabilities do not deserve more opportunities.
It says, any suggestion to the presidency by organisations of persons with disabilities about increasing the number of persons with disabilities in governance in the country has been met with the unpleasant response that “one of you has been appointed as a Regional Minister”; to suggest that they should be content with it.
The statement claims that the GFD and other organisations of persons with disabilities have got some vibrant and competent members in the New Patriotic Party and from the time of the appointment of Ministers, they proposed the appointment a woman with disability as a Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.
They also proposed the appointment of a person with disability to the Council of State, appointment of persons with disabilities to Governing Boards of various State Institutions, and appointment of Persons with Disabilities as MMDCEs.
The federation says ‘it is highly disappointing that the Government led by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has chosen the path of tokenism so far as the participation of persons with disabilities in the governance process is concerned.”
“Taking into cognizance the fact that a major principle of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which our President co-chairs is “leave no one behind”, we are of the considered view that our President is in no meaningful manner, demonstrating any intention of seriously improving the participation of marginalised groups in the governance process of his second term”, the statement added.
The development of Persons with Disabilities in Ghana is seriously abysmal, largely due to the fact that they are not at the decision making table when development is discussed or executed. It is only when a country makes deliberate efforts at improving their participation at the decision making table that serious improvements begin to emerge.
This is evident by what countries like, South Africa, Uganda, Senegal, Namibia, Kenya, but to mention a few, have done to give meaningful expression to the development and voice of persons with disabilities on the continent.
The GFD says, until Ghana, as a country takes that bold decision to involve more persons with disabilities at the decision take, the country is not likely to have any remarkable improvement in the livelihood of this marginalised group. It, therefore, hopes that the president will endeavour to begin to express in a more meaningful manner, his confidence in the ability of persons with disabilities to deliver and contribute effectively towards the overall development of the country.
The federation entreats the President to consider the appointment of Persons with Disabilities to the various assemblies as government appointees in the coming months when that exercise is due by January, 2022.
By Benjamin Nii-Lartey Ayiku