By Adamu Abuh
In a bid to ensure inclusiveness of persons with disabilities (PWDs), the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dr Tajudeen Abass has endorsed the usage of sign language during legislative proceedings.
The chairman of the House of Representatives committee on disability, Dr Bashiru Dawodu made this known at a parley with the disability community held in Abuja aimed at addressing the challenges arising from the removal of fuel subsidy.
The Lawmaker explained that the initiative which is part of the legacy project of the Speaker would be implemented soon.
He expressed the readiness of the House of Representatives to amend the national health insurance fund (NHIF) aimed at incorporating the interests of PWDs in the country.
At the event organised by the Accelerate Disability Inclusion in Emergencies (ADIE) Forum, stakeholders lead speakers including Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC); and Chair, Board of Trustees, Amnesty International Nigeria canvassed the inclusion of the representatives of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) into the planning, implementation, and monitoring of the cash transfer initiative and such other measures that may be initiated by government at all levels, in respect of the fuel subsidy removal policy.
They also called on federal, state, and local governments to introduce an affordable public transportation system that is accessible to Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) beginning in October 2023.
“This program should provide discounted or free transportation vouchers, passes, or dedicated transportation services to ensure affordable and accessible transportation options for PWDs,” they noted.
“Accessible transportation should include buses with adjustable ramps and handrails for wheelchair users, signage and electronic display for directions with audio announcements for the benefit of the deaf and the blind.”
They further called on the federal and state governments to initiate a stand-alone social protection intervention for persons with disabilities (PWDs), including establishing reliable databases of PWDs, food banks for an equitable distribution of economic palliatives to PWDs, and targeted financial assistance as well as a reversal of the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 7.5 percent to 5 percent by October 2023, and halt further increases in existing taxes, tariffs, and duties, as well as the introduction of new ones for the next one year to increase the purchasing power of Nigerians, especially PWDs.
“The federal government should ensure the full implementation of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, particularly the 5 percent employment quota for PWDs and incentivize private and public sector employers to implement workforce inclusion initiatives for persons with disabilities like work-from-home options, flexible schedules, accessible workplaces etc,” they added.