Nigerian Government reaffirms commitment to disability bill

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Disability Matters, Dr Samuel Ankeli

The Nigerian Government has restated its commitment to assent to the disability bill as soon as it is passed by the National Assembly.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Disability Matters, Dr Samuel Ankeli gave the assurance at the national dialogue on disability in Nigeria on Wednesday in Abuja, with the theme: “Rethinking disability: Adopting an inclusive developmental approach’’.

The special assistant noted that the intent of the bill is to include full integration of persons with disabilities into the society and establishment of National Commission for Persons with Disabilities.

Ankeli said that the plight of persons with disabilities can only be addressed when the concerned group themselves and NGOs, among others, take up the responsibility.

However, he called for concerted efforts of the general public and philanthropists, among other stakeholders, in adopting all inclusive approach in development programmes.

“If persons with disabilities only engage in dialoguing without moving out to tell the government, policy makers, among others, where it pinches there will be no progress in addressing their plights.

One man, one agency cannot do it alone and the President has set the pace by making commitment to ensure implementation of the bill as soon as it is passed by the National Assembly.

And I expect we just take a cue, both government and non-governmental organisations, development partners need to put all hands on deck with this we can get the desired result.”

He called on all and sundry to change the lives of persons with disabilities adding that the work was enormous.

Dr Ankeli stated that the President is committed to have an inclusive society through inclusive governance.

“We hope the bill through the commitment of the National Assembly will soon be signed into law; it has been passed and been harmonised and when it comes to the executive, I give you the assurance that the President will immediately assent.

He will also establish the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities which will be vested with the responsibilities of their education, healthcare and social economic and civil rights,’’ Ankeli said.

Similarly, Mr Charles Abani, Chief of Party, USAID Civil Society Project, who highlighted the theme, noted that changes can only be effective when you engage citizens that are excluded from conversation that affect their day to day lives.

Abani said the right solutions to the plight or needs of persons with disabilities required engaging them to understand what their problems are as well as engage them in designing solutions.

“You have to engage them in the monitoring and implementation of those issues that are likely to bring about change.

Change happens when citizens participate; when we say citizens there are diversities, very many groups who are excluded from conversations that affect them on their day to day basis and persons with disabilities are one of those groups.

It is really important to keep making a point that unless you include those affected by an issue, you are unlikely to identify the right solutions to them,’’ Abani said.