The National House of Representatives house committee on disability have made a pledge to champion and strengthen their oversight function to ensure the implementation of the national disability act in Nigeria positively affect the lives of people with disability. They make this commitment on September 9, 2021 at the end of the 2-day disability inclusive legislature retreat in Owerri organised by Sightsavers through the UK AID Inclusion Works project.

In her opening remarks, the Chairman of the house committee on disability, Honourable Princess Marian Onuoha says: “disability is a fundamental human right and all private and public institutions must guarantee a non-discriminatory practices and policies that will promote disability-inclusive friendly society.”

She further shared the activities of the committee and urged organisations of people with disability to provide technical support to the committee such that will enhance them achieve their mandate as announced by the Honourable Speaker, RT Femi Gbajabiamila when he constituted the committee on December 3,2020.

The Country Director for Sightsavers Nigeria, Dr Sunday Isiyaku says: “it is commendable for the members of the National Assembly to be willing to learn best disability global practices and committed to using the knowledge and deliberation from this retreat to demand for a disability inclusive legislation reforms in Nigeria.

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“Our collective principle approach is to work and support with organisations of people with disability and government bodies to prioritize and mainstream disability inclusion across all programs and policies.” He said.

The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Persons with Disability (NCPD), Mr James Lalu commend the entire committee members for demonstrating the enthusiasm to support the disability movement in Nigeria. He says: “the commission is striving to ensure the disability act is fully implemented but the financial budget apportion to the institution is very little compare to the task to be accomplished, thus there is need for honourable parliament members to support in helping to ensure speedy passage of its 2022 budget which needs to be significantly increased upward.”

Having built our capacity and information gathered through experience sharing, we are dedicated to swift into action by ensuring we demand for the setting up of a disability resource center in the National Assembly; have sign language interpreter live in all public hearing and plenary sessions; ensure the proposed national disability trust fund bill scale through and setting up a technical committee to review the national disability act to align with the UN convention on the rights of persons with disability, the committee members jointly affirm this as next step in its communique.

On behalf of the umbrella body for all organisations for and of persons with disability (OPDs), the Acting National President – Joint National Association of Person with Disability (JONAPWD), Mr Abdullahi Usman expressed the willingness of OPDs to work with the house committee to bridge the technical gap and information needed. Other disability leaders at the retreat include CEO of the Albino Foundation – Mr Jake Epelle, Executive Director of Inclusive Friends Association, Grace Jerry and National President of the Nigeria Association of the Blind, Mr Ishaq Adamu.

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