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#DisabilityBill: Odds against persons with disability in Nigeria

Source: pointblanknews.com
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Disability is a physical or mental impairment that is perceived to limit

one or more major life activities of an impaired person. While this

appears a direct definition, Nigerians have ascribed various definitions

to disability in different terms, concluding that persons with

disabilities are abnormal persons who are offered mainly medical and

charity gestures.
Over the years, persons with disability in Nigeria have been marginalized

in all spheres. These discriminating tendencies have deprived them of the

basic opportunities entitled to every citizen thereby infringing their

fundamental human rights.
As victims of negligence, this category of people have gained global

attention constituting a social group that is vulnerable to societal

discrimination. Yet this has only compounded their tormenting

experiences‎.
They are generally dispossessed of physical structures, employment

opportunities, and leadership positions, improved educational facilities

resulting to socio-political inequality, social stigmatization, and high

level of illiteracy, open discrimination, insecurity, and exclusiveness

resulting to high dependency on others without disability.

There have been cases of Nigerians deprived of employment opportunities,

admission into schools, getting political appointments, etc. because of

their disabilities with a confirmed report stating that Persons with

disabilities constitute only about 3% of the work force.

According to a report of the National Baseline Survey on Persons with

Disabilities (PWDs) in Nigeria, 50% of PWDs had no schooling whatsoever

and the use of necessary assistive devices by PWDs was limited and

inadequate, consisting mostly of walking sticks, crutches, braces,

walkers, and hearing aids. The main sources of assistive devices for PWDs

across the nation were family, friends and PWDs themselves. Begging for

alms was the most prominent source of their subsistence.

World Health Organization reports that over 20 million Nigerians are

living with disability which makes them the largest minority group in the

nation.
The Disability Bill seeking to provide succor to PWDs in Nigeria has been

faced with a yoke of assent such that it has failed to be accented in two

successive administrations after passage in the 6th and 7th assembly. This

only goes to show the level of commitment to the plights of PWDs.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives in the previous

assemblies have showed consideration by passing this bill in accord for

the executive to assent.
As enshrined in the Fundamental Rights provisions of Chapter IV of the

Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended in

January, 2011.‎ ''Every Nigerian citizen is entitled to be conferred with

equality of rights, obligations and‎ Opportunities before the law, the

recognition of the sanctity of the human life and the maintenance and

enhancement of human dignity''.
Many developing countries in the world are availed with inclusive

disability rights legislation and policy regimes where disabled people are

involved at all levels in the society and not left as odds and tools for

charity.
Unfortunately, this bill has often been compared to the petroleum industry

bill, PIB that has remained with the national assembly since the 6th

assembly and yet its significance if passed cannot be over emphasized.‎

The 6th National Assembly passed this bill on the 28th of September 2010;

a lot of bills have been prioritized above bills like this, in a

government that preaches full inclusiveness of the masses, the idea of

humanity first is not inclusive of disabled Nigerians, they are seen as

disabled first before human beings.
More often than not, policies to take beggars off the street have gained

much attention because they constitute nuisance such that it has become a

nightmare for state governors in the case of Kaduna State. A major

occupation of PWD is alms begging how then do the government want to get

them off the streets without a law that allows their rights to be upheld?

It is pertinent to note that, anyone could be disabled either naturally

congenitally through unforeseen causes, accident or as one goes into old

age.
Emphatically, 7th National Assembly on January 30th 2015 barely six months

to the end of the assembly harmonized and sent the bill defending the

rights of Persons with Disabilities for presidential assent that proved

abortive.
On the 12th of July 2016 the 8th Senate passed the same bill for final

reading; however with the travails of persons with disability and the

burden of assent by previous administration, the timely passage of this

bill has again awoken the wishes of PWDs whose greatest desire is for this

bill to finally become law and ensure their full integration into the

larger society.
''With what the 8th Senate has done today by passing this bill for its

third and final time in the Red Chamber, it is my hope that this National

Assembly can finally break this jinx by getting it passed by the House of

Representatives and assented into law by Mr. President” Senate president,

Bukola Saraki stated shortly after the passage.
This hope means everything to over 22milliion disabled Nigerians whose

believe their ability has been dashed and relegated as victims of

negligence and an apparatus of charity. This bill for its worth seeks to

provide for the establishment of a National Commission for persons with

disability to cater for their education, health care while protecting

their social economic and civil rights. It will also check and outlaw all

forms of discrimination against them and put in place measures that will

address their condition.
Disability is not Inability and there is ability in every disability in

the words of Khang Kijaro Nguyen “Able does not mean enabled. Disabled

does not mean less able.”
Kind Regards,
CYNTHIA FERDINAND U.
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