By Eric Ojo
Chairperson Board of Trustees (BoT) and Pioneer/Co-founder of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), Miss Omotunde Ellen Thompson has blamed the plight of PWDs on lack of proper implementation of existing laws governing their welfare in the country.
JONAPWD is an umbrella organization of persons with disability established in Nigeria to promote the rights and development of Nigerians with disabilities.
The organization was established in 1992, to represent the interests of the teeming population of persons with disabilities at the local and international level.
Miss Thompson who is widely recognized as Nigeria’s PWDs “Life-long Godmother of Disability Civil Rights and Advocacy movement”, made the observation in a statement made available to the media on Thursday.
Miss Thompson said the lack of proper implementation of existing laws in the country, especially the lack of compliance with the 2008 JONAPWD Constitution and Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) guidelines, is the primary impediment to the well-being of over 31 million Nigerians with disabilities under JONAPWD.
Other laws, according to her, include the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018 (Nigerians with Disabilities Act, 2018), UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Disability-Inclusive Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 2030 Agenda, as well as other related legal frameworks.
She however, expressed optimism thar the House of Representatives Standing Committee on PWDs has vowed to ensure full implementation of the Nigerians with Disabilities Act, 2018, UN CRPD and SDGs, 2030 Agenda alongside the Renewed Hope Agenda of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
“A significant step in this commitment was expressed at the High-Level Round-table meeting held on September 5. In a resolute commitment to empower and uplift Nigerians with disabilities, the House Standing Committee on Disability, under the able leadership of Hon. Bashiru Ayinla Dawodu, representing Oshodi-Isolo of Lagos State, has embarked on a mission to ensure the comprehensive implementation of the Nigerians with Disabilities Act, 2018 and others”, she said.
Miss Thompson also noted that the leadership of House Standing Committee on Disability has wasted no time in fulfilling its Constitutional Legislative oversight fiduciary duties.
She added that this proactive approach is aimed at finding holistic Sustainable solutions to the challenges hindering the successful implementation of the Act, under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities mandate.
“The committee is also committed to initiating reasonable reforms that will bolster the Commission for Persons with Disabilities and align it with President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.
“In addition to addressing legislative and policy reforms, the committee is suggested that there is an urgent need for JONAPWD in Nigeria to realign with the guidelines of CAC. This should be carried out after rigorous investigating of allegations of multiple misconduct(s) and gross disobedience which has been happening since 2008 till date”, she further explained.
The JONAPWD BoT Chairperson equally disclosed that Hon. Dawodu has pledged to use the committee’s Constitutional Legislative oversight fiduciary duties to amend the Act, in alignment with the UN CRPD mandates.
“He also committed to ensuring that the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) adheres to the provisions of the Act and stressed the need of persons with disabilities to adhere to rule of law and order in the discharged of their duties, while under his committee, adding that he will live to protect and promote the rights of over 31 million Nigerian with disability, irrespective of political affiliation, type of disability, nationality, religion and state of origin.
“He also promised to enhance awareness creation of the 5% employment reservation my MDAs and private sectors, so that persons with disabilities who are qualified can be gainfully employed. This will go a long way to reduced poverty among the disabled community in Nigeria”, she stressed.
She said the chairman has also harped on the importance of reforming and restructuring JONAPWD at the national level, without delay. “This includes full compliance with the National Assembly’s 2020 R-enacted and repealed Company and Allied Matters Act of the CAC and the JONAPWD 2008 Constitution”, she added.
Miss Thompson observed that the House Standing Committee is dedicated to achieving inclusivity and empowerment for Nigerians with Disabilities and is determined to contribute to the success of President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.
“The administration of President Tinubu, has taken on numerous challenges, including insecurity, kidnapping, terrorism, and community unrest. It has been recognized that a significant contributing factor to these challenges is the neglect of Nigerians with Disabilities, who often suffer traumas that lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), an invisible psychological disability. President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda aims to address these challenges and provide hope for all Nigerians, especially the vulnerable.
“To strengthen and facilitate the Renewed Hope Agenda, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, unveiled 134 different Standing Committees, including the Standing Committee on Disability. Hon. Dawodu and Hon. Adamu Sani, both dedicated to improving the lives of disabled Nigerians, were appointed to lead this unique committee”, she stressed.