Speaker, Persons With Disabilities discuss governance issues

BY: Musah Yahaya Jafaru
 Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye
Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye

The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, has urged the media to focus their discussions on issues that are relevant to the country's socio-economic development.

He said the over concentration on irrelevant issues would thwart efforts at implementing policies to bring about the needed socio-economic development.

“A lot of the things that we discuss in the media are themselves peripheral and if you do that the policies will also not be policies of issues but policies of
vituperations and that is very dangerous for the country”, he said.
Professor Oquaye made the call in Accra last Monday at the Speaker’s Breakfast Meeting with the leadership of Parliament and members of civil society organisations.

The meeting offers the opportunity for organisations to put across their concerns and suggestions on policies and legislations.

Last Monday's meeting was the turn of persons with disabilities (PWDs) to discuss their concerns in relation to the enforcement of the Disability Act 2006, Act 715.

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Expert panellists

Prof. Oquaye said in other jurisdictions, media organisations put together expert panels to discuss national issues but that seemed not to be the case in Ghana.

“We have virtually permanent representatives on television and radios who speak ‘expertly’ from archaeology to zoology and we expect to develop and grow and be a great nation?” he asked.

Prof. Oquaye said it was time the country concentrated on issues that affected the vulnerable and marginalised in society so as to ensure the comprehensive development of the country.

Touching on the enforcement of the Disability Act, Prof. Oquaye said passing the law was not the panacea to the problems that affected PWDs but its strict enforcement.

He called for close collaboration between PWDs and other relevant agencies for identifiable gaps in the Act to be rectified.

PWDs's concerns

A member of the Disability Council, Mr Alexander Bankole Williams, who made a presentation on "Disability Inclusion in Ghana — the State of affairs post the passage of the Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715)", said PWDs faced discrimination and neglect at workplaces, schools and homes in the country.

He said despite the passage of the Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715), the provisions in the Act to address the challenges of PWDs were not being enforced.

For instance, he said, no provisions had been made in commercial vehicles or parking spaces allocated for PWDs as stipulated in the Act.

Mr Williams said PWDs were being denied their fair share of the three per cent allocation for PWDs in the District Assemblies Common Fund.

He alleged that the administrations misapplied the money while leaders of associations of PWDs continued to draw from the three per cent allocation.

Mr Williams suggested that the Disability Council should be made to take over the management of the three per cent allocation for PWDs to ensure fairness in the distribution of money.