By Akanimo Sampson
Sightsavers, a global civic group concerned with a world where no one is blind from avoidable causes, and where people with disabilities participate equally in society says in Nigeria and most parts of the world, people with disabilities are still denied the rights to go to school and get jobs.
The Country Director of the group, Sunday Isiyaku, who made this known on their website however, pointed out that there are more than 25 million people with disabilities in Nigeria.
While also pointing out that until recently there has not been any national legislation or policies that protect and guarantee the rights of people with disabilities in the country, Isiyaku equally pleaded with the Federal Government to implement the disability law President Muhammadu Buhari signed in January.
According to him, ‘’Sightsavers Nigeria has launched a petition calling for disability rights to be upheld by the United Nations and its member states. As a UN member the petition also includes a call to the Nigerian government to implement the Nigeria Disability Act.
‘’In Nigeria and around the world, people with disabilities are also denied access to health care and take part in political processes. This discrimination is an injustice the over 25 million Nigerians with disabilities.
‘’Our petition for disability rights has two goals. At a global level, it calls on the United Nations to make sure that its recently published disability strategy is implemented effectively. At a national level, we are calling on our own governments to implement the national disability act and meet commitments they have made on disability inclusion’’, Isiyaku said.
It is however, quite worrisome that seven months after President Buhari signed the National Disability Bill into law, it is yet to be implemented. As a result of this, people with disabilities are still experiencing significant barriers in accessing education, employment, financial empowerment and political participation.
Discrimination is common, especially against women with disabilities. Expectedly, the implementation of the National Disability Act will lead the government into establishing a National Disability Commission that will be responsible for raising awareness of the need for a disability-inclusive society, and tackling discrimination against people with disabilities.
Hopefully too, through this awareness, children with disabilities will have access to regular schools, young people with disabilities will not be discriminated against and denied their right to employment, and women with disabilities will enjoy the same health facilities at public hospitals.