By Angela Atabo
The Wiki for Minorities, a group under the Wikimedia Foundation, an NGO, has offered to partner with the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), to drive awareness on the implementation of the Disability Act.
Ms Obiageli Ezeilo , the Assistant Director, Ministry of Education and a Kiwix Ambassador, said this when she spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in commemoration of the International Day of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs).
“The mission of the Wiki for Minorities is to empower and engage people around the world to develop their educational talents under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally,” she said.
She said the partnership was necessary because a lot of people were not aware of the need to support an inclusive society as well as the provisions of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018.
“The Act outlaws discrimination on the basis of one’s physical, mental or sensory impairment and makes provision to sanction anyone found violating it by either paying a fine of N100,000 or a term of six months imprisonment.
“The law also stipulates a five-year transitional period for modifying public buildings, structures, and automobiles to make them accessible and usable for people with disabilities.
“Wiki for Minorities believes in inclusion in education, health among others and we will support JONAPWD to create visibility, letting people know about their activities and understand what disability is.
“Being a PWDs does not mean you are poor or you don’t belong; so as we celebrate the disabilities day, we call on Nigerians to consciously support inclusion as we continue to use our platform to enlighten people,” she said.
Ms Agnes Abba, a volunteer with the Wiki for Minorities, said the group would carry out outreaches to enhance the knowledge of people on disabilities issues.
“We are celebrating with people with disabilities to raise awareness on the disabilities act the government signed.
“For us, we are here to create visibility and to make sure that there is more inclusion in the society so PWDs can function well,” she said
Mr Abdulahi Usman, the National President, JONAPWD, said the association was an umbrella body for PWDs in Nigeria.
Usman said PWDs had things they wished the society to know, but that their voices were hardly heard.
“So we know that we can only achieve our goal through media support, I appreciate the effort of Wiki for Minorities in trying to do so.
“I appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for signing the Disabilities Act into law and establishing a commission for PWDs.
“So, what I am urging the President Bola Tinubu’s administration to do is to continue where Buhari stopped for further support for PWDs.
“By January 2024, the disabilities act will be five years old and it has been a period for Nigerians to be aware of the law; what we are now looking forward to is the implementation of the law,” he said.
Usman called on the government to put in place measures to guarantee the implementation.
“This can only be achieved if the Federal Government command the implementation stage, I know definitely all stakeholders will abide.
“The judiciary will act if anyone does not obey the law and the law enforcement agencies will act accordingly,” he said (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Maureen Ojinaka and Ali Baba Inuwa