Persons With Disabilities have bemoaned their continued exclusion from government programmes, policies and activities, calling for urgent implementation of the National Disability Act to put things right.
The group made the call during a National Disability Dialogue organised in Lagos by the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) to brief relevant stakeholders on the successes, commitments, achievements, assessments and implementations of the National Disability Act.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event, ‘`One Day National Disability Dialogue’’, was put together by CCD with the support of Ford Foundation.
It had in attendance commissioners from across the states and a representative from the Federal Ministry of Justice.
Also, the executive and governing board of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, the General Manager of Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA), Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities from the six geopolitical zones, funding partners and other CSOs were in attendance.
Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of the CCD, Mr David Anyaele, said the inclusion of persons with disabilities in governments programmes, policies and activities was essential to their personal and social development.
“If we must say Nigeria is inclusive it must begin with the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“It must start from the state government, it must start from the private sector by removing all forms of barriers that hinder people with disabilities from participating in the society.
“What we have done or what we are doing today is to present to Nigerians the extent of the implementation of the National Disability Act.
“We are sharing today a report that focuses on Nigeria, Our Disability, Assessment of Compliance and Implementation of the National Disability Law,’’ he said.
Anyaele added that certain barriers should be removed for the inclusion and acceptance of people with disabilities in the society to improve their standard of living, alleviate poverty and provision of equal opportunities.
“When we talk about barriers, barriers have to deal with areas where there are no access to public infrastructure building, no accessible toilet, no accessible stairs or accessible handrails or lift to take the person upstairs.
“There is a barrier already where individuals from our African perspective, their to attitude to persons with disabilities see such persons as not worthy to participate in the society,’’ Anyaele said.
“When government programmes, policies and activities do not track disability issues, people with disabilities will not be able to benefit and their poverty will continue to increase.
“These are the barriers that must be removed if we must say Nigeria is a society that promotes equal opportunity,’’ he added.
Also, Prof. Omololu Shoyombo, of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), in his report conducted in February 2022 on “Assessment of the Implementation and Compliance with the National Disability Act’’ showed that the level of knowledge and awareness about the National Disability Act is still relatively low.
Shoyombo is a Research Consultant for CCD.
In his research findings also, the level of compliance and implementation of the provision of the law was also very low.
“There is general need for more advocacy and understanding of the law. The advocacy should extend to reach the rural areas and the law should be broken down into local dialects and languages for proper digestion by persons with Disabilities”
He also recommended that the National Commission of Person with Disabilities (NCPWD) should be separated from the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs for more dedicated services for the needs of person with Disabilities.
“The National Commission for Persons with Disabilities should share its agenda, mission and vision with its primary constituency (PWDs) so that they can be aware of the activities of the national commission,’’ he highlighted.
Evaluating the report findings, a Professor of Law, Afeisimi Badaiki, said the level of awareness created by the Federal Ministry of Information was not satisfactory.
“Though the ministry of information is responsible for dissemination of information, its function is supposed to be accumulative in addition to the role of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities to ensure that people are aware of the existence of the law”.
He also called for the enforcement of the law
“Members of the public should be able to institute some actions to enforce the right of persons with Disabilities as enriched in the law,” Badaiki said. (NAN)