Centre for Citizen with Disabilities (CCD) on Thursday organized the first Disability roundtable on the implementation of the disability act. The programme which was supported by Kingdoms of the Netherlands brought together Federal Line Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, line National Assembly Committees on disability issues, the media, and civil society organizations. The roundtable which would be ongoing is to stimulate the interest of the Federal Government for the implementation of the National Disability Act through sensitization of line Ministries, Departments and Agencies on their roles and responsibilities in the implementation of the Act, and identify areas for collaboration to ensure no one is left behind in the implementation of the Act.
The Executive Director, CCD David Obinna Anyaele in his remark narrated a story on how CCD came into being, which he said that it was as a result of his ordeal at the hands of the rebels in Sierra Leone simply because he is a Nigerian, his hands were chopped off. CCD was founded in 2002 and it was formerly Amputees Rehabilitation Foundation incorporated with CAC as a charity organization. It was modified into CCD to be in a better position to engage in the issues of all forms of disability. CCD over the years has continued to seek a redefinition of society’s perception of the plights of persons with disabilities. This is evident in some success stories recorded such as mainstreaming persons with disabilities in the HIV/AIDS programmes, building advocacy capacity of persons with disabilities and the media and most significantly was CCD collaboration with other organizations of persons with disabilities to fight restlessly to break the 18 years delay for the passage of the Discrimination against persons with disabilities (Prohibition Act) 2018. He thanked President Buhari for assenting to the bill and he appreciated the leadership and members of the 8th National Assembly for the role they played, the organizations of people with disabilities and development partners for their role, the media and families and friends of the disability community.
Nigeria is the country with the largest number of persons with disabilities in Africa with an estimated number of more than 25 million Nigerians with disabilities with 80% living in rural areas with minimum access to social infrastructures. It is pertinent that we take seriously the plights of Nigerians with disabilities. CCD’s research findings in six states including Abuja show that more than 99.5% of our public infrastructures are not accessible to persons with disabilities and the National Assembly Complex is no exception. The MDAs responsible for the implementation of the rehabilitation of Persons with disabilities are not accessible to persons with disabilities.
The roundtable on the National Disability Act is a demonstration of CCD’s resolve to ensure that the Act is fully implemented. Generate commitments from some quarters on their roles in the implementation of the Disability Act and hold them accountable for their commitments.
He left the participants with food for thought which is when we are discussing disability, we are not talking about people living with it today but about everybody. He reminded that he was not born with disability so it can happen to anybody.
Abiola Labinjo, Deputy Director representing the Minister of Finance, Budget, and Planning assured that the ministry is in support of the Disability Rights Act and urges other ministries who are saddled with responsibilities of carrying out government projects to consider and add disability-related programmes in their budgets.
Florence I. Owonaro (senior state counsel (Citizens Rights Department)) representing the Minister of Justice said that the Minister of Justice is in the full support of the implementation of the act.
Mrs Uche Chuta, Assistant Director, representing the Minister of Information and Culture while giving gratitude to Mr President for putting smiles on the faces of Nigerians with disabilities pledge to support the implementation of the Nigeria Disability Act and call on other MDAs, private organizations and individuals to do everything within their responsibilities to ensure that Nigeria Disability Rights Act is fully implemented.
Sunday Hezekiah, Assistant Director, representing the Minister of Women Affairs, on mentioning some of the ministry’s achievements such as the distribution of mobility aids to persons with disabilities, economic empowerment of persons with disabilities and the ministry also supported the moves that eventually resulted to the signing of the disability bill into law. He assured the Ministry continued the commitment to ensuring the full implementation of the Act.
Aisuedion Abel Akhere( Assistant Director) representing Minister of Education said that the ministry have achieved giant strides in mainstreaming persons with disabilities such as formulation of National Policy on Inclusive Education and its implementation guideline, National Policy on Albinism and its implementation guideline, National Policy on Special Education and its implementation guideline, all these policies are meant to mainstream persons with disabilities and the ministry is committed to ensuring that Nigeria Disability Act is implemented.
Patricia Aniebue, Assistant Director (OSSAP SDGs) representing Senior Special Assistant to President on SDGs said that the SDGs office is ready to collaborate with disability organizations to see to the implementation of the act.
Rt. Hon. (Pharm) Donatus Uzoemena representing Distinguished Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu while reading the senator’s remark, commended CCD for their doggedness and commitment to ensure that the disability right bill was signed into law. The senator was delighted to be part of the 8th Assembly and part of history on the disability rights bill as a co-sponsor of the bill. He commended Mr. President for doing the needful to sign the bill into law following 9 years of restless advocacy on disability rights in Nigeria. Before now, people with disabilities are not seen as one of the integral parts of the society, the act is poised to ensure that persons with disabilities are seen as an equal partner in the economic development of the society. One of the key positions of the act mandates the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to ensure awareness creation and promotion of the provision of the act to the benefits of persons with disabilities. Nigerians need to know what is expected of them arising from the content of the Act before the act will have a significant effect on the lives and daily living of persons with disabilities.
He assured that he will use his position in the Senate Committee on Labour to ensure that within the labour law that persons with disabilities rights to employment are implemented. He promised that he is open to be a contact person to National Assembly for persons with disabilities to ensure that NASS will do whatever they can within the legislative guideline to see to the implementation of Nigeria Disability Law.
M.D Hassan, Director, Legal Services, National Assembly representing the clerk in his remark narrated how joyful he was when the bill was assented to knowing all the efforts some of them within the National Assembly have putting in to ensure the passage. He assured that the office of the clerk will continue to work with CCD in the engagement of the National Assembly to ensure the full implementation of the Act.
The highlight of the event was a presentation made by Barrister Okey Kanu, a person with disability and Disability advocate on the National Disability Act: The Role of The MDAs. He broke down the act section by section and mention MDAs who will be responsible for the implementation of each section. It was detailed and it provided enough requisite information for MDAs to know their roles and run with it.
At the end of the meeting, MDAs present agreed to collaborate with persons with disabilities in ensuring the implementation of the act but there was a unanimous decision that the centre should channel more effort towards the establishment of the National Disability Commission because it is the vehicle that will propel the quicker implementation of the act. On this vein, representatives of the various MDAs offered to assist to establish a relationship with their MDAs to the realization of the National Disability Commission as soon as possible.
Other participants at the event are Sister Fidela Unigwe from Daughters of Charity, Noel Balogun from Disability Rights Advocacy Centre (DRAC), Agbo Christian from The Qualitative Magazine, Chinonso Obodo from Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Aver Akighir a CCD volunteer, Members of Nigeria National Association of the Deaf, Lawrence Idemudia Edeifo, Ephraim Omoregie and Helen Beyioku-alase, Theophilus Odaudu from Disability Rights Fund (DRF), Obinna Ekujereonye from National Association of the Blind and other members of disability community.
Source: Qualitative Magazine