The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, CCD, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the National Disability Bill into law.
The Executive Director of the centre, David Anyaele, made this call at a stakeholders’ forum on Tuesday in Abuja.
Mr Anyaele said that this law would enable the People living With Disabilities, PWDs, to participate in the 2019 general elections.
Mr Anyaele noted that the number of people living with disabilities was increasing with the recurring herders/farmers clashes and other forms of disasters in the country.
“The importance of the national disabilities bill, when signed into law, cannot be over emphasized.
“The situation of the PWDs in Nigeria is deteriorating daily due to the exclusions and discrimination by both state and non-state actors in policy programmes aimed at improving the life of Nigerians.
“CCD will constantly make efforts to ensure that Nigeria secures a legal framework that protects its citizens on human right abuses, especially for persons living with disabilities,’’ he said.
Mr Anyaele said in 2019, Nigerians would elect new leaders at both the federal and state levels, adding that the charity approach of addressing PWDs was unacceptable
On her part, Ms Cleo Wilson, the Deputy High Commissioner, Australian High Commission to Nigeria, said it was disheartening that the country was yet to enact a law to protect its citizens with disabilities.
“It is sad that Nigeria is still struggling to enact a law to protect its citizens, who suffer one form of disability or the other, especially with the rise in the number of persons with disabilities,’’ she said.
Wilson pledged support for the centre for citizens with disability and expressed optimism that there would soon be a law to protect the rights of such citizens in the country.
The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige, said that persons with disabilities were faced with discrimination and exclusion on a daily basis.
Represented by Dorcas Ajiboye, Director, Social Security, Ngige said the National Disability Bill recently passed by the National Assembly was a proof of support and commitment to the wellbeing of the PWDs.
Ngige said: “The welfare of these people has for long been neglected; the bill, if assented to, will provide succour for the PWDs and extend transformation to many aspects of our economy.
He also noted that the bill if assented to, would assist in eradicating the vicious circle of poverty that had debased the dignity of persons with disabilities.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, urged the CCD not to relent in its efforts but ensure that there was a law to protect the right of PWDs.
Mrs Alhassan, who was represented by Nkechi Onwukwe, the Acting Director for Rehabilitation, also encouraged the centre to seek international partnership.
According to her, the protection for PWDs could not be left to the government alone.