By Gift Samuel, The Sight
Abuja- People Living with Disabilities have emphatically called on the Senate President, Bukola Saraki to fulfill the promise he made in 2016 to disability actors by passing the Disability Bill into law.
Making the demand on Thursday in Abuja at a protest, the Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities(CCD), Mr David Anyaele who spoke unbehalf of other members, demanded that the Bill be signed into law this week by all means and gave the National Assembly a deadline of December ending as failure to do so will lead to the groups occupying the National Assembly by January 2018.
Anyaele explained that, “The Disability Bill has been at the National Assembly since the year 2000 from one session to the other they pass the Bill. The Bill has suffered the longest gestation period in the history of Disability Bill making across the world. In 2016 the bill was harmonized by the Joint Conference Committee of the National Assembly, regrettably, we are being told that this bill is missing, is it possible for a bill to miss?”
He further noted that more than 25 million Nigerians live with disabilities, and 80 per cent are in rural areas with minimal access to infrastructure, adding that there have been struggles for over 17 years to pass the bill and yet it has not been passed despite the assurance from Senator Bukola Saraki in 2016.
“What we are hearing today is that the only and singular bill that will protect more than 25 million Nigerians living with disability, 80 per cent of them living in rural areas with no access to social infrastructure, is missing. We are worried and this is a complete disappointment, neglect and abuse of the sensibility of Nigerians with disability by the National Assembly, knowing full well that this bill is the most expensive bill in the history of this country”.
The groups which includes; Centre for citizens with Disabilities(CCD), Disability Rights Advocacy Centre (DRAC), Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), further took the protest to the All Progressives Congress(APC) Office in Abuja.
Speaking on the reason for taking the protest to the ruling party, the Director of CCD stated that the visit was informed by the believe that APC has a disability friendly policy, as he pointed out that the major cause of disability in Nigeria is poverty and passage of the Bill into Law is the tool to reduce poverty.
He Pleaded with the APC to intervene for them at the National Assembly by calling on Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara to expedite actions to pass the bill into law.
Responding, the APC National Chairman who was represented by the National Treasurer, Alhaji Bala Gwagwaruwa noted that the APC took the issue of people living with disabilities seriously right from the day of Campaign leading to the party appointing two of their members into positions, assuring that the two houses will be engaged by the Party to pass the Bill in the shortest time.
He stated that the National Chairman will use the opportunity of interaction to talk to both houses, adding that the letter he received from the head of the delegation will be presented to the chairman and expressed believe that the chairman will act on it as he believes in the progress of the party and the country.
The CCD Executive Directed listed states that have passed the bill to include;- Lagos, Ekiti, Jigawa, kano, Plateau, Ogun, Bauchi states
The bill if passed into Law will help kick against discrimination on the People Living with Disabilities, give them access to goods and Service, political participation in economic activities, right to health, participation in all fares of life and other benefits.