By Khalid Ahmed (INN), Gombe
Persons with disabilities in Nigeria are faced with the problems of discrimination, marginalization, and exclusion from national issues including issues that affect their lives. The negative perception of persons with disabilities increases their exclusion from fully participating in society.
Despite all odds, Nigerian leaders have failed to adopt useful policies that will address people suffering from their plight.
According to Yusuf Yahaya, a deaf person from Gombe State, “my deaf sister, from my hometown, Kumo, told me the reasons why she’s unable to resume school is because she doesn’t have a school uniform and her parents left for Kano since 3months leaving her to stay with her aunty, imagine as a boarding student, they are supposed to buy her school uniform and pay her PTA before they leave. Recently the Federal government introduced the policy of paying students with disability allowance to encourage them in pursuing their educational careers even if their parents couldn’t support them (right from primary to tertiary ) this policy was continually adopted by the previous administration(s) until the coming of this administration it was cancelled, due to yet to be identified reasons.
“It seems to be that most Nigerian leaders are not interested in anything that has to do with the plight of 25.5 million Nigerian Living with a disability. Society shares part of the blame, most of our people have little or no interest in the issues and plights of persons with disabilities, even interested in. Most of our activists, human Right activists etc are selective when it comes to National issues”.
The fact is that disabilities affect some people early, middle or late. The formers are those who suffer most from its pain especially the pain of discrimination, marginalization, exclusion, segregation, isolation and total loss of human dignity in our society, they are often far discriminated against, In schools, hospitals, employment, information and to some extent communication, National orientation and awareness, religious activities, political participation, to mention but few. To elaborate, for instance, the majority of them are denied access to higher education simply as what the management termed “we don’t have interpreters or special education here ” they go to the hospital and there is no interpreter to communicate with the Doctors. Likewise in courts and other public institutions.
Apart from Government failures to adopt useful policies that will benefit persons with disabilities and ensure inclusion, parents also contribute to discrimination against persons with disabilities. Most parents have little concern about disabled education that’s why you see many of them end up their careers after secondary school while some turn to street begging.
Disability law in Nigeria
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday 23rd January 2019 signed into law, the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act.
The bill which has lingered in the National Assembly for 18 years, seeks to criminalise discrimination against persons with disabilities.
This bill was passed by the 8th Senate on March 28, 2018. In December, it was transmitted to the president for assent for the 4th time since 1999.
A bill which has a lot of recommendations that will favour people with a disability includes five per cent of employment and opportunities in a public organisation, right and privilege of education, healthcare, priority in accommodation and emergencies, making public structure accessible to PWDs, right to sue defaults and establishing of National Commission for Persons with disabilities.
Domestication of the National Disability Act
President Muhammad Buhari has directed state governments to domesticate the Disability Act to make the establishment of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities perform its responsibility.
The President spoke on Thursday when he hosted members of the newly established commission, led by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, at the State House in Abuja.
Although most of the states are yet to domesticate the Disability law in Nigeria which was believed to be set back to the implementation of the law at the sub-national level.
As of 3rd December 2021, only 13 states in Nigeria have domesticated the bill in their respective states.