‘Assent  to national disability bill now’

Victor Akinkuolie, Ado-Ekiti
Joint National Association of Persons  Living with Disabilities (JONAPWID),  Ekiti state chapter, has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to establish a commission that would look after its members numbering about 27.9 million across the country.

The body urged  the Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi to appoint one of them as either a commissioner or special adviser, saying such would propel  Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) to work hard and contribute to the society , rather than seeing them as liabilities .

The group also urged President Buhari to break the jinx by assenting to the National Disability Bill that had been awaiting presidential assent since the days of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

At a press conference in Ado Ekiti on Thursday to herald the 2018 international Day for persons with disabilities, JONAPWID, said time has come for the federal government to legalise the rights of members and stop interventions in the form of charity.

The conference was jointly addressed by the Chairman and secretary Mr. Omotola Omotula and, Funso Olajide respectively.

Olajide, who read the speech said: “Statistics had shown that one out of 10 Nigerians lives with one form of disability or the other. The same statistics revealed that PWDs in Nigeria are 27.9 million out of 180m population.

“So, I believe we can have a commission to take care of our people. We are no longer comfortable with the establishment of a department under the Ministry of Women Affairs to intervene in our issues. The staff in the department can be deployed in the commission to work”, he said.

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Olajide urged Fayemi to run all-inclusive government by appointing “a Special Adviser and other key appointments in his cabinet from our members, who are qualified.

“We also need improved funding for special schools, empowerment, social security , free education at all levels, subvention for running of the association, employment of able-bodied graduates into three Ekiti Special schools and provision of bus for JONADIP”, he demanded.

A practicing Lawyer and member of JONAPWID, Mr Gboyega Afolabi, expressed regret over the delay in the signing of the disability bill into law by successive  administrations.

Afolabi , who traced the trajectory of the existence of the bill , said President Buhari would be the fourth President to preside over the bill that had already been passed by the two Houses of the National Assembly.

“The bill was passed by both federal Houses in 2003, but former President Olusegun Obasanjo refused to sign it. Even when we thought he would use this as a parting gift in 2007, he withheld assent to the bill.

“In 2015, it was also passed by both houses, but former President Goodluck Jonathan refused to sign. The bill has also been pass now, we want President Buhari to sign it and take the credit.

“Whatever the government does for us in Nigeria was considered a charity, we want to go beyond that level. We want these things to be done on the basis of rights and only this law can help us”, he said.

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