Linus Aleke, Abuja:
Concerned about the continual exclusion of people living with disability in the scheme of things within private and government circle, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Disability Matters, Dr. Samuel Ankeli has reiterated his call for the establishment of ‘Disability Commission’ as well as passage of the ‘Disability Bill’ before the National Assembly to facilitate inclusion of disabled Nigerians in developmental policies and programme of government.
He also called for collaboration amongst critical stakeholders to ensure that the bill is passed, adding that if the bill is passed; his office will do everything necessary to ensure that the president gives his assent to the piece of legislation.
Dr. Ankeli made this call in Abuja at the National Dialogue on Disability in Nigeria with the theme “Rethinking Disability: Adopting an inclusive development Approach” organized by Disability Right Advocacy Center (DRAC) in collaboration with CBM as part of activities line up to commemorate 2016 International Day of Person with Disability.
“Before I was appointed to serve in this government, I was actively involved in the advocacy for the passage of disability bill currently before the National Assembly to provide the necessary legal framework for the inclusion of people living with disability in the scheme of things in Nigeria.
“The bill was passed three times in the past but it was not accented to by the then president. However, I can assure you that the incumbent president is committed to have an inclusive administration; therefore he will not hesitate to sign the bill whenever the current National Assembly passes the bill into law.
“I am also sure that the parliament under the leadership of Senator Saraki will expedite action on the bill. President Buhari will not hesitate to establish the proposed Disability Commission the moment all the legal frame work is put in place because he does not go back on his words.”
Earlier in her address of welcome, the Executive Director, Disability Right Advocacy Center (DRAC), Mrs. Irene Ogbogu emphasized the need to change the narrative around disability from charity approach to developmental approach, arguing that disability rights is human right.
She nonetheless appealed to government to design policies and programmes aimed at providing for the need of people living with disability, observing that five out of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals of United Nation is targeted at addressing the plight of people living with disabilities around the world.
Ogbogu added that the APC led government promised people living with disability a disability law, but stressing that “when the law becomes operational our rights will be respected and recognized. And we would be included in government policies and programmes.”
In a paper entitled “Disability Inclusion in SDGs; Socio-Economic and Political Implications” the Chief of Party USAID, Mr. Charles Ubani observed that the problem is not about disability but the level of information and understanding of disability issues by leaders and citizens to be able to discuss disability issues and proffer lasting solutions to disability problems and challenges.
He further argued that when people with disability are taken care of in terms of education, they are not the only one to benefit from it but the entire society.
Ubani also bemoaned a situation where two percent of UBEB fund is allotted for the inclusion of people with disability, who account for over fifteen percent of the nation population in UBEB programme, describing it as unfair and disproportionate.
He however advocated for a disability law to protect the rights of people living with disability, arguing that a legal framework and a clear cut policies is not only an imperative, if people are to exercise their rights, they must have a legal framework within which to do so.