PWD: Senate set to commence full implementation of Disability Act

Sharon EboesomiMay 9, 20245 min

The Senate has mandated that children with disabilities should not be denied access to schools and public buildings.

PWD: Senate set to commence full implementation of Disability Act

The Senate has disclosed that the Disabilities Commission has posted sign language interpreters to the National Assembly, to interpret both plenary proceedings and public hearings.

This is as it was disclosed that the sign language interpreters will commence its activities from next week.

As a call for full implementation of the Disabilities Act, the Red Chamber has also resolved to set up a disability desk in the Senate as well as create a Standing Committee for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) to deal with all issues concerning PWDs.

It further resolved to call for the allocation of adequate budgetary resources and funding for programs, initiatives, and services aimed at addressing the needs and priorities of persons with disabilities, including but not limited to education, healthcare, vocational training, assistive technology, and accessibility infrastructure.

These resolutions followed the adoption of a motion on “Persons with Disabilities (PWD) in Nigeria and call for full implementation of the Disabilities Act,” sponsored by Senator Osita Izunaso (APC, Imo West) during Thursday’s plenary

Presenting the motion, Senator Izunaso stressed that Persons with Disabilities (PWD) constitute a significant segment of the Nigerian population, numbering about thirty-five (35) million, and facing various challenges and barriers to full inclusion and participation in the society.

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He lamented that many buildings, public spaces, and transportation systems are not designed to accommodate individuals with disabilities, making it difficult for them to move around independently and access essential  services. 

According to him, the lack of accessibility not only limits their mobility but also restricts their participation in various aspects of the society, including education, employment and social activities.

The Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act as was passed into law in 2018, provides comprehensive protection of the rights of persons with disabilities as well as prohibiting discrimination against them in all spheres of life.

“The full implementation of the Disabilities Act is crucial to ensuring equal opportunities, access to education, healthcare, employment, transportation, and public services for persons with disabilities, as well as promoting their full participation and integration into society, and for easy access to foreign and local grants,” he added.

The lawmaker expressed concern  that despite the enactment of the Disabilities Act in 2018, there remains a gap in the implementation and enforcement of its provisions, leading to continued marginalisation, exclusion, and violation of the rights of persons with disabilities across Nigeria.

In his contributions, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (APC, Abia North) noted that most of the private and public buildings in Nigeria do not have disability access.

Even in these chambers, there is no access for anybody with disability in terms of wheelchairs and the rest of it.

“Hotels and public places need to protect the rights of disabled people,” he added.

On his part, Senator Peter Nwebonyi (APC, Ebonyi North) lamented over the inhumane treatment of PWDs saying, “Just two weeks back, I read through the social media and I saw where a cripple was denied access into a restaurant in Lagos. 

“This cripple didn’t create himself, but that is the position he found himself and I believe that this motion is aimed at addressing all those things. 

“So it is our duty as a parliament to make sure that the rights of these less privileged people are protected, because in most cases, you may not know that these people are God in disguise,” he added.

Senator Idiat Oluranti (APC, Lagos West) who also said, “Apart from them having the disabilities, they also have the issue of health inequalities and as such, making permission for them at every opportunity that we have is a must for us because they do not have the opportunity to move around like we do. They do not have the opportunity to comprehend like we do.”

Following the debate on the motion, the Red Chamber, urged the twenty-three (23) states that have domesticated Disabilities (Prohibition) Act (2018) to prioritise and expedite the full implementation of the Act, in line with the international human rights conventions, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), and ensure disability mobility access in all senate facilities and other government and private buildings.

This is as it urged that children with disabilities should not be denied access to schools and public buildings.

It further mandated the Committee on Legislative compliance to monitor the full implementation of the Disability Act.

Sharon Eboesomi

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