The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Disability Matters, Mohammed Abba Isa has applauded the strides and accomplishments of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, lead by James David Lalu. The SSA stated that although the commission has been underfunded to carter for the need of over 31 million Nigerians with disabilities, James Lalu has ensured dividend of good governance has tickled to most Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the country. He promised that the commission can do more if empowered and well funded.
Mohammed Abba Isa made the disclosure during the public presentation of the translated and simplified version of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018 in Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo languages in Abuja.
The SSA called on all Nigerians to support and work with the commission towards making Nigeria accessible and inclusive.
He said “We are all under obligation and we need to take the responsibility of creating awareness very seriously.
“About 80 percent of PWDs are in rural areas, they do not have access to information or livelihood, they are not informed of their rights as enshrined in the act. Therefore, I want National Orientation Agency to decentralize the awareness to the grassroots in every community, local government and states.
One advantage of the community of PWDs is that we have very good organizational structures that cascade down to the every individual PWD in Nigeria. The JONAPWD have structure in all states of the federation, the over 150 organizations of PWDs and other sectors are there and NOA can take advantage of this structure to reach PWDs with advocacy messages on the act in their various languages.
“This version of the act makes reading and understanding the act easy, because its simplified in the various major languages in Nigeria (Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa). This version is to enhance communication, understanding and implementation.
“I hereby call on all partners to collaborate with NCPWD to achieve the renewed hope agenda and building an inclusive Nigeria for all. The government has done a lot for us, it has given us the environment, the legal framework and instruments to help us know and claim our rights. Therefore, we need to get the ball rolling; we need to all support the process. I also solicited the government to give maximum support to NCPWD. The commission is underfunded presently to be able to adequately support over 31 million Nigerians of PWDs. The president has the passion to support PWDs, so the NCPWD must partner with relevant stakeholders, MDAs to ensure inclusive governance is achieved in the shortest possible time.”
In his presentation, the National Coordinator, The Leprosy Mission, Nigeria, Dr. Sunday Udo explained the vision behind the project of translating the act into various Nigerian Languages. He said “Today we have reached a milestone in our commitment to inclusion and equal rights of every member of our society. It is with great pleasure and pride that we are gathered here today, for the public presentation of the translated and simplified version of our national disability act in three local languages, the Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba.
“This significant accomplishment reflects our determination in making information accessible to all individuals including PWDs.”
The Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, James Lalu applauded The Leprosy Mission, Nigeria for such farsightedness and promise full collaboration in ensuring that the message of the act as translated gets to the grassroots and are understood.
Lalu said “The discrimination act of PWDs in Nigeria is very important. Also, the awareness cannot be over emphasized. Some of our members do not know their rights and how to go about accessing and claiming these rights in their various communities.
“Also, the communities of PWDs need to know that their rights are properly protected in the laws of the federation. This document will send a lot of message to the communities, the leaders, our traditional institutions and leaders, the development associations to make them fully aware of the acts and its provisions and how they can apply and implement these to ensure that the rights of PWDs are protected in the family circle, school, communities, etc.
“According to the provision of the law in section 18, Education is free from PWDs up to secondary school level. It is disheartening that some PWDs still pay school fees in some institutions of learning. We have received various complaints from different states; we are approaching and handling these appropriately. Although some persons have been liberated from such, the message must be made clear to all concerned.
“The commission’s collaboration with NSCDC and the Nigeria Police is yielding great results. NSCDC has established disability desk in all states of the federation. These desks have assisted the NCPWD on handling disability discrimination issues. Translation of the Act s we have it today will assist in sending the awareness to all rural areas. This will assist the commission to make its already exiting mediums of addressing discrimination easy as the content and provision of the act is in these 3 basic Nigerian languages.
“The commission have 24 hours communication platform to report incidence of discrimination. These include the hotlines, whatsApp handle, the NCPWD app, and other social media handles. With our partnership with JONAPWD and other disability cluster groups we are creating intensive awareness on the use of the NCPWD App on android. With the app it’s easy to report any form of discrimination against PWDs in Nigeria. On reporting such through the app, we can see such report immediately and our team with the law enforcement agencies will investigate and bring such perpetrators to book.
“Section 2 to 15 of the act provide for accessibility for PWDs. NCPWD have promulgated the minimum accessibility standards for all organizations in Nigeria. The regulation for minimum accessibility standard will be launched on the 6th of December, 2023. Therefore, it is important that all offices, employers of labour, MDAs, NGOs, etc to ensure full compliance to the accessibility of structures and organizations.
“An enforcement committee will consist of the commission, House committee on Accessibility, security agencies, disability communities to ensure full compliance with the provision of the law and any defaulting organization will be sealed. The commission has been empowered to seal any building not accessible for PWDs. The 5 years waiting period will be over on the 6th of January, 2024.
“Imagine a situation where an ATM machine is not accessible, the PWD will have to give another person his ATM card and pin number. When the person finishes assisting the PWD, he already has the PIN number and other detail of the account, making it easy for our monies in our account not safe. So, PWDs need to rightfully access their money in the bank. Same should be with other facilities in the society.
“We are therefe calling on all members of the society to ensure our commitment to make Nigeria a comfortable and accessible country for all citizen including PWDs remain intact. We call on all community to support the NCPWD in making Nigeria inclusive for every citizen. Nobody is immune to disability until he/she goes to the grave. Also, everybody is at risk of becoming a PWD.
The publications were unveiled by the House Committee Chairman on Disability, Hon. Dr. Bashiru Dawodu.