By EricJames Ochigbo
Persons with Disabilities (PWD) have commended the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila for sponsoring the Young Person and Persons with Disabilities Bill.
A cross section of those who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday shortly after the bill scaled second reading at the House of Representatives said this.
Mr Ubaka Betram, Executive Director, Person with Disabilities Action Network (PEDANET-Nigeria), expressed happiness with the development.
Betram said over the years, people played politics with the bill which made people with disabilities remain subjugated and under represented as they were denied opportunity to enhance their livelihood.
The director said that PWD had seen a lot of exclusion and discrimination which led to the introduction of the bill 21 years ago.
”I want to thank God for the 9th assembly and the emergence of Femi Gbajabiamila as speaker.
“He created the office of Special Assistant on Disability and we started having intervention, hearings and seminars.
”We are calling for a ministry for inclusive development for us to have people play the role of minister, to see to budgetary allocation and governmental intervention; to see to policy reforms that will accommodate the interest of the over 27 million Nigerians living with disability is quite historical.
”For us, we are glad because it goes beyond the intellectuals among us to over the over 80 per cent of people living with disabilities who may not have access to Abuja dwelling in rural areas,” he said.
He added: ”The interest has been protected, we can now beginning to talk about access to public and social facilities and quality education that can break that state of dehumanisation.
”Today is a great day for Nigeria and we want to thank the speaker for leading this proactive force to intervene on behalf of people living with disabilities.
”The way forward for Nigeria has just started and the way forward for sustainable development just began.”
He said similar legislations have been passed in Canada, France, Sweden, Norway, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.
Miss Omotude Johnson, an activist, corroborated Betram’s claim, commending the 9th House of Representatives for writing its name in gold in the history of disability community.
She said the bill would impact positively on peoples living with disabilities and give them unhindered opportunity to contribute to nation’s development
“We all passed through the same education, we have same certificate not disability certificate, we went to the same university despite the absence of disability friendly environment in most institution where we acquire skills and certificate.
“With this bill, a lot of us will be able to contribute our quota; as people with disability, if given the chance, we can do it; disability is the inability to perform some tasks and does not mean you have nothing to offer the society.
“I appreciate the 9th House of Representatives for what it has done so far, I am happy this happened in my time.
“I appeal to the House to organise a public hearing for persons with disabilities, our community is such a big community with 31 million persons in the country.
“So that we will be able to address the 1999 Constitution particularly section 12 and make sure that the road is straight to mainstream us,’’ he said. (NAN)