By Comrade Muhammed Abba Isa
The Nigerian Senate was yet again on media space yesterday, Tuesday 4th, May 2021, albeit this time, for good reasons.
The red chamber received encomiums and commendations from members of the public, most especially the Nigerian Disability Community. Members of the community expressed unreserved appreciation for law makers recognition and consideration in prioritizing the plight and common concerns of Persons with Disabilities in the country.
The legislative resolutions reached by the chamber have in its spirit and letters genuinely captured apprehensions of Nigerians with disabilities. Further more, if implemented as recommended, the initiative will go a long way in addressing basic problems of Persons with Disabilities as highlighted in the transcript of the resolution.
Recall that Nigeria recorded it first index case of COVID-19 in late March 2020 and since the period under review, the Federal and State Governments has rolled out different policies and programs aimed at mitigating the economic, scientific and social burden of the pandemic. Some of these policies and programs are ongoing while others have been concluded.
However, the pressing question on the lips of the average Person with Disability is: “whether Persons with Disabilities have been adequately engaged in the cycle of these interventions – from planning to implementation? Another concern is if there are specific programs designed to address the concerns of Persons with Disabilities, considering their peculiarities, that is?
The legislative intent of passing and signing into law the “DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES (PROHIBITION) ACT 2018” and the subsequent establishment of a National Commission for Persons with Disabilities by the present administration cannot be misconstrued or misinterpreted as technical ignorance. Rather it signifies genuine demonstration of political will and desire for an inclusive society devoid of all kinds of discrimination.
The Commission was established with the sole intent of prioritizing, promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. As such, the government and other partners must explore the various platforms it created to avoid insinuation of subtle sidelining as referenced by the law makers.
Perhaps, no one will claim being unaware of the exemplary leadership exhibited by the James D. Lalu led administration in piloting affairs of the Commission. Through it hundreds and thousands are already benefiting from federal interventions across the States.
The Presidency and Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development must answer this clarion call by the legislature to further demonstrate their commitment and passion for Persons with Disabilities by immediately engaging the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities in developing this five-year plan for urgent national relevance.