Vice Chairperson, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), FCT Chapter, Mr. Kazeem Olalekan Lawal; Executive Director Inclusive Friends Association (IFA), Grace Jerry; and Mr. Bem Aga, Programme Director National Democratic Institute (NDI), during the meeting in Abuja.

By Abbas Jimoh

The Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) has said it was reviewing the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018 to know the level of implementation three years after it was signed into law.

Executive Director, IFA, Grace Jerry, during the Implementation Review Meeting of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018, on Wednesday in Abuja said the move was necessary for the good of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs)

She said that IFA and the Access Nigeria Campaign had been leading advocacy for laws to enhance inclusiveness in the country and the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018 was the outcome of one of such.

She said that there is no doubt that before the enactment of this law in 2018, there has not been systems, structures and process that accommodates PWDs in various spheres of life.

She said that this had deprived them access to and participation in public life on an equal basis with other citizens.

“Since 2016, the IFA led Access Nigeria Campaign and other campaigns led by other Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) have diligently advocated for the passage and enactment of the Disability Act law which is a reality today.

“The Access Nigeria Campaign wishes to use this medium to appreciate the 8th Assembly for passing this law and President Muhammadu Buhari for signing it into law in January 2019.

“We must also commend the President for establishing the National Commission for person with disabilities to run with the administration of the law, and for appointing a competent hand in the person of James Lalu as its Executive Secretary,” Jerry said.

She also said that the efforts of all implementing MDAs are not unnoticed and with emphasis that, the forum was not to witch-hunt any MDAs but rather to celebrate gains made, document challenges, and pave way for collaborations.

Jerry said that the collaborations was in other to provide adequate implementation to better the lot of over 30 million PWDs.

She also commended the National Democratic Institute (NDI) for their technical assistance; and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for their sustained financial assistance for the Access Nigeria Campaign.

Also, Mr Bem Aga, Programme Director, NDI, said that since 2016, NDI had been supporting the access Nigeria campaign to improve the political and socioeconomic rights of PWDs.

Aga said that the focus of that support over the years had mainly been in the sphere of elections, but in addition after five years of advocacy for the passage of the discrimination against persons Act, it was passed by the eight assembly and signed into law.

He said that the discussion has now moved into implementation using the standard set by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of PWDs which was the global standard set to which Nigeria domesticated in 2019 for the passage of the National Disability Act.

He said, “Laws indeed are passed to better the lives of citizens, Nigeria has 30 million PWDs, if you have been looking at the statistics in our presidential election, you will know that this is statistics that can determine any presidential elections.

“So, it is indeed a segment of society that cannot be overlooked, NDI is very proud this event is holding today. This is because IFA led Access Nigeria campaign has commissioned a very competent consultant to conduct a survey on the implementation of the law since its passage in 2019.”

Aga said that this was to ensure that CSOs work with government and together undertake the collective action that should happen for the law to be implemented effectively and efficiently.

He said that this was in the interest of Nigeria’s 30 million PWDs so that society at large can benefit from this law.

On their parts, the Program Manager, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Timothy Gabriel Obongha; Senior Information Officer, Federal Ministry of Information, Tinomo Yakubu; and the Social Security Desk Officer, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. Ifi Aper call for sustained and improved welfare for PWDs.

They also called for improvement on the Act for possible areas where such are needed for legislative amendment.

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