By: Abayomi Adeshida, ABUJA
President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to save the thirty-million Nigeria Persons with Disabilities by looking into the composition of the Nigerians Disabilities Commission and ensure that it follows the letters that were enshrined in the Nigerian Disability Act which clearly spelt out the membership of the Commission to ensure an effective service delivery that was envisaged during the struggle for the establishment of the Commission.
These were contained in the media release signed by the President, Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities International Incorporation, Chief Eric Ndubueze Ufom in a swift reaction to the 2021 budget defence by the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Mr. James Lalu before the Senate Committee on Special Duties at the National Assembly Abuja.
Speaking during the defence, the Executive Secretary had said, “just the provision of the device before a person gets artificial limbs that can last for more than five years will require M5,00.000,”Lalu was quoted to have said during the defence of the budget of N1,749,884,495 allocation for the Commission.
Also read: Nigerians Disability Commission would address nation’s fundamental problems — Us-Based Group
In a swift reaction, Chief Ufom who had followed the establishment of the Commission through the domestication of the American Disabilities Act in Nigeria that spanned over twenty years regretted that the first public representation of the Commission by the Executive Secretary was a clear demonstration that the current composition of the Commission was a far cry from the aspirations of those who fought for the establishment of the agency which was set out to do beyond budgetary allocations and financial management.
The statement which was dispatched from Houston, Texas and made available to the media was titled: NATIONAL DISABILITIES RIGHTS COMMISSION TAKES OFF THE WRONG WAYS BY BRAKING THE DISABILITY LAW IT IS ESTABLISHED TO IMPLEMENT reads below:
“Budget for Nigerians with Disabilities rights commission, cut from over 41.7 billion naira to 1.7 billion Naira because due process was not followed by the Executive Secretary and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Developments.
“The Executive Secretary who has no knowledge of how Federal Budgets are being put together and defended, forcibly, wrongfully, prepared fraudulent budget of over 41.7 billion Naira, which the Federal Ministry of Finance cut down to over 1.7 billion.
“The Executive Secretary, who is yet to be issued an official letter of appointment by the SGF, despite being advised not to appear before the National Assembly to present and defend the budget, he refused to obey such advise and forcibly, went to defend the budget.
“The Executive Secretary, who is yet to be issued an official letter of appointment by the SGF has no constitutional or legal rights to directly or indirectly prepare and defend the budget before the National Assembly.
“There are constitutional due process of establishing new Federal Ministries and Commissions and its take-off preparation under the Head of the Civil Services of the Federation of Nigeria.
“The take-off of our independent National Disabilities Rights Commission started operating the wrong ways by violating the Nigerian Constitution and the Nigerians with Disabilities Act (NDA), especially its articles 35 and 37, which the Commission was established under.
“The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation is in charge of putting together any new Ministry or Commission. They have a Department in charge of it who has developed a standard process of doing it, that includes initial take-off budgets.
“Per article 37 of the Nigerians with Disabilities Act (NDA) the National Assembly were very specific during its enactment and passage into law. They mandated that the National Disabilities Rights Commission Shall operate as an independent Commission. They did not say that the Commission shall operate under the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs or any other Ministry.
“Section 32 of the Nigerians with Disabilities Act, was very specific on naming the Ministries that shall be a member of the Governing Councils and which did not include the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs. The National Assembly did not mandate those ministries named to take charge of the Affairs of the National Disabilities Rights Commission.
“Therefore, if the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs wanted to take charge of the National Disabilities Rights Commission, the Presidency Must first return the Nigerians with Disabilities Act back to the National Assembly and request for its amendment to include the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and for her to take charge.
“Unfortunately, pursuant to the United Nations Charter and its Treaty agreement signed and ratified by Nigeria on October 7, 1960, the Executive Branch, which is the Presidency, has no constitutional or legal power or authority to change any part of the decision made by the National Assembly under Nigeria’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, signed and ratified by Nigeria and its accompanying Optional Protocol on March 30, 2007, and September 24, 2010, respectively.
“It took us over twenty years-long journey through very rough roads to succeed in our advocacy and negotiations for the making of the Nigerians with Disabilities Act and its implementation Commission. Therefore, the wrong take-off of the commission is not what we spent over twenty years advocating with the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo, Late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, President Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhamadu Buhari for it’s making.