With an estimated population of 25 million Nigerians with disability (Human Rights Watch 2019), the need for a Disability Commission is long overdue and we applaud the Federal Government for making efforts to bring an end to years of exclusion of this valuable population through the establishment of a Commission – Ene Obi, Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria
ActionAid Nigeria, a humanitarian non-governmental organisation working to combat poverty and all forms of injustice in Nigeria has called on state governments to domesticate the Disability Commission, following the president’s appointment of executive members of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
Speaking in Abuja, ActionAid Nigeria’s Country Director, Ene Obi “ With an estimated population of 25 million Nigerians with disability (Human Rights Watch 2019), the need for a Disability Commission is long overdue and we applaud the Federal Government for making efforts to bring an end to years of exclusion of this valuable population through the establishment of a Commission, that is charged specifically with the responsibility of ensuring the inclusion and welfare of persons with disabilities as enshrined in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Law in Nigeria.
“We earnestly hope that the Commission through its mandate will ensure that the education, healthcare and other social and economic rights of the people with disabilities contained in the 1999 Constitution and the Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will be upheld. Also worthy of emphasis is the need to ensure that at least five per cent of all public appointments go to people with disabilities as backed up by the law supporting the establishment of the commission; only PWDs can proffer solutions to challenges they face and we call governments at all level to honor this provision of the law”.
For persons with disabilities, the freedom to move safely around urban and rural areas in Nigeria is greatly restricted by the plan and design of transport systems that is insensitive to their needs, and by negative social norms that tolerates violence towards certain disabilities. These insensitivities expose them to violence whilst on the streets, especially women with disabilities facing multiple burden as they are exposed to the threat of gender-based violence while they go about their daily life. Key areas that requires immediate attention includes transformation of transport system to ensure adequate buses and stops, street lighting, recruitment of female transport staff, disability friendly public toilets and infrastructure that caters to their mobility and protection.
ActionAid Nigeria welcomes the federal government’s commitment to creating a PWD friendly society, but we need to see this translated into investment in infrastructure and public services that account for the needs of this teeming population, and by extension, everybody’s need. More tax, well spent, can help make this happen, but aggressive reduction of corporate tax bills undermines the efforts of governments to secure resources to fund public services. Governments should ensure that PWDs participate equally and meaningfully in all processes around designing, legislating and budgeting for city planning and public transport.
ActionAid Nigeria therefore urges governments to leverage on additional revenue from closing tax loopholes to provide disability friendly public transport and other public services. We call on state governments to expedite action in domesticating the Disability Commission as further delay will amount to great injustice especially at a time when the world is battling COVID-19, one of the most lethal pandemics in the history of mankind.