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‘Passage of disability bill is fulfillment of Nigeria’s obligation to international treaties’

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David Anyaele

In the past few years, the Centre for Citizens with Disability (CCD), have been in the forefront of the campaign for the enactment of disability law in Nigeria.

In this interview with JOSEPH ONYEKWERE, the executive director of CCD, David Anyaele, says Nigeria is under obligation to implement the provision of international treaties that recognize the right of People Living with Disabilities (PWDs) in the country.

Disability bill a way of domesticating international protocols recognizing the right of PWDs or you are just pushing for a distinct law?

According to Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Nigeria signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of persons with disabilities and its Optional Protocol on 28th May 2007 and 27th October 2008 respectively.

The Convention seeks “To promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

On 14th July 2010 the former President, signed the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of (Disabled) No. 159 of 1983.

This Convention makes provision for employment of persons with Disabilities without discrimination. What that means is that Nigeria is under obligation to implement the provision of these treaties.

The general obligation of State parties as provides in Article 4 of the UNCRPD convention includes 1. States Parties undertake to ensure and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities without discrimination of any kind on the basis of disability.

To this end, States parties undertake: to adopt all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention; to take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination against persons with disabilities; to take into account the protection and promotion of the human rights of persons with disabilities in all policies and programmes; to refrain from engaging in any act or practice that is inconsistent with the present Convention and to ensure that public authorities and institutions act in conformity with the present Convention; to take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability by any person, organization or private enterprise among others.

Therefore, the passage of Nigeria Disability Bill is in fulfillment of Nigeria’s obligation to the convention.

The bill in the Senate seems to share similar fate with PIB. What do you think accounts for this?

The disability bill is the most expensive disability act on the face of the earth. This stems from ignorant on the part of the State actors on the import of PWDs participation in the society on equal bases with others.

This is coupled with lack of political will on the part of the government to protect vulnerable groups like persons with disabilities and unfounded fear of cost of implementation, which does not exist as there are existing State institutions that needs to be strengthened to ensure smooth response to the provisions of the act.

What are the most striking features of this bill, you think will be of great importance to the interest of PWDs?

All the provisions of this bill are striking. However, it is important to highlight some of the provisions of the bill.

These include: Prohibition of all forms of discrimination on the ground of disability; Awareness programmes to be led by Federal Ministry of Information, Right of access to public premises, which is key for PWDs participation in the society on equal bases with others.

Accessibility aids in public building.

Accessibility to roads and sidewalk, this is where the role of government is critical.

The bill further provides for access to Goods, services and facilities, accessibility of vehicles, waiver of charges on assistives, reserved spaces, access to seaports and railways, assistive service and airline, prohibition of use of Person with disabilities in soliciting for alms and penalty, freedom of movement, right to free education, inclusiveness of education, free education for special education personnel, free healthcare provisions, special communication at hospitals, equal right to work, job security and accommodation as well as participation in politics and the established a body to be known as the National Commission for persons with disability, among others. These are the reasons why we are pushing for the passage of the disability bill.

I understand that some states such as Lagos already have Special People’s law. To what extent has it been adhered to and made use of by those involved?

States like Plateau, Ondo, Bauchi, Jigawa, and Kano States have passed one type of disability law or the other. Lagos State has one of the robust disability laws in Nigeria, thanks to the former Governor of State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) for signing it into law after the passage by the Lagos State House of Assembly.

The good thing about Lagos State Disability Law is that it provides for an office for disability affairs, which is like a Commission.

Lagos State is implementing the law at their own pace, PWDs are being offered employment by the State government, Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs is running, almost all the Ministries at the Lagos State Secretariat at Alausa has reserved parking space for PWDs, which is in fulfillment of the provisions of the law.


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David AnyaeleNigeria
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