OrderPaper Today – A leading disability right organization, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) has advocated for quick presidential assent to the electoral amendment bill transmitted to the President by the National Assembly.
When signed, the law provides for the removal of barriers that hinder citizens with disabilities from participating in the electoral process on equal basis with others.
This was contained in a statement signed by David O. Anyaele, Executive Director of CCD, in the commemoration of year 2021 International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
The statement acknowledged that the “International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a day set aside by the United Nations to promote a better understanding of disability issues with a focus on the rights of persons with disabilities and gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities.”
Meanwhile, the theme for the 2021 IDPD is “Leadership and Participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world”, which focuses on the empowerment of persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as envisaged in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
The statement stressed that “we are marking this day at a time Nigerians are waiting the assent of the President on a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 and enact the Electoral Act 2021, to regulate the conduct of Federal, State and Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory Elections; and for related matters.
“The bill provides for the removal of barrier that hinders citizens with disabilities from participating in the electoral process on equal basis with others. We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign into an Act the Electoral Bill without further delay in order to open space for necessary actions towards 2023 General Elections.”
According to the statement, CCD expressed worry that 36 months after the passage of the disability rights act, only 13 State have demonstrated measures to adopt the Act, adding that citizens with disabilities are still left behind due to none implementation of the Act by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
“This is evidenced by the none provision of necessary measures to enhance access to buildings of these MDAs, and inclusion of citizens with disabilities in their programmes and activities.”
“We are worried that many states across the federation are struggling to budget for the integration and rehabilitation of citizens with disabilities, even when they are budgeted persons with disabilities hardly benefit from such provision. However, we commend states like Lagos State, Plateau, Ondo and Anambra States have taken measures to not only pass disability bill, but have taken steps to create offices for disability affairs in their various States.”
The organization acknowledged that, “18 months that President Muhammadu Buhari gave directives to Ministries, Departments, and Agencies to pay special attention to the peculiarities of persons with disabilities in the formulation and implementation of their policies and programmes, and where suitable their employment. We call on heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies to operationalize these directives by the President to ensure the full implementation of the Disability Rights Act.”
While commending Lagos, Anambra, Ekiti, Ondo, Plateau, Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, Kogi, Niger, Kwara, and Niger States, the organization call on the State governments yet to adopt the National Disability Rights Act to do so, while maintaining failure not to consider the Act is an indirect endorsement of discrimination and other harmful practices against their citizens with disabilities.
Similarly, the statement commended the National Assembly, particularly House of Representatives for the establishment of the an ad-hoc Committee on Disability Affairs with Mrs. Miriam Onuoha as its Chairperson, while calling on the Senate and States House of Assemblies to borrow a leaf from the House of Representatives by establishing similar ad-hoc Disability Committees on disability affairs to ensure that issues of persons with disabilities are given priority at state and federal level.
CCD, while acknowledging that Nigeria has signed the United Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities including it optional protocols, maintained that SDGs will not be achieved if state and none state actors continue to discriminate, isolate and marginalize over 31 million Nigerians with disabilities in planning and implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria.
“We urge organisations of and for persons with disabilities not to relent in their efforts of promoting and creating awareness on the disability issues at Local, state and federal level to enhance public understanding, as nothing about us with us.”
CCD thanked the media for their continued support to the efforts of the disability community towards increasing the voice of the voiceless in Nigeria.