By Abayomi Adeshida, Abuja

Stakeholders have been urged to increase the zeal with which they are pursuing the attempt to give constitutional recognition to the rights and obligations of people living with disability in Nigeria by ensuring the proper implementation of the clauses so as to cause the disability community to also make tangible contributions to nation building.

The attempt to effect the inclusiveness of Nigerians with disability during the current attempt by the National Assembly to carry out a constitution amendment has also been described as a clear undisputable and verifiable democratic dividend as the race for the achievement had taken decades without any meaningful outcome.

The Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities International Incorporation stated in separate communications with the offices of the Speaker House of Representatives, The American Ambassador to Nigeria and the Secretary Board of Trustees of the The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) that it was willing to express a profound appreciation for their contributions towards the successes achieved so far, but also implore them to continue to pay close attention to the implementation of the clauses even after they are entrenched in the constitution of Nigeria.

In the letter to the House of Representatives which was jointly signed by the President, Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities International Incorporation, Chief Eric Ndubueze Ufom and the Executive Secretary of the body, Mrs. Ngozi Pauline Ikebuaku, an appreciation was sent to the Speaker House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila for a successful second reading and a legacy on a bill for an act to amend the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), to provide for inclusion and protection of persons with disabilities.

According to the Not for profit group, “Having keenly monitored your unshaken dedication to the plight of the over 31 million Nigerians and one billion Persons with Disabilities worldwide, 10 million Almajiris/street beggars, who were direct victims of Childhood Traumas that suffer one of its mysterious and debilitating late effects, called, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), we write to appreciate your contributions towards lifting the disability community out of the problems that have held them down for many decades.

” We also wish to appreciate your bold efforts you have taken personally to give constitutional recognition to the issues that affect millions of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP), who were victims of Terrorism, Bandits, kidnapping, armed robbery, man-made and natural disasters, Climate Change, waste, Trans-boundary, indoors and outdoors Air pollution, who also suffer from its late effect called PTSDas well as wounded Nigerian Military and Security operatives together with retired Nigerians who suffer from age related mental and physical disabilities.

” We hereby write on behalf of the Nigerian-Americans with Disabilities Living in the United States, our Nigerian and American Registered Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs), Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities International, Inc., (ERPWDI) (aka Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities Initiative(ERPWDI)) , FESTAC-USA, Inc, Kaysom Holding, Inc, in collaboration with Center for Advocacy and Citizens with Disabilities, European Union, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, over one billion persons with disabilities and our leaders worldwide, to humbly send this note to express our heartfelt gratitude and congratulate you for making huge historic LEGACY for the 9th National Assembly, your political party, President Muhmmadu Buhari Administration, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Nigerians with Disabilities and every Nigerian family because every Nigerian family has at least one person with disabilities who would be a direct beneficiary of the provisions of the Bill when it become a law.

“On July 1, 2021, the House of Representatives successfully gave Nigerians the best dividend of democracy through the passage of the, “A BILL FOR AN ACT TO AMEND THE PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, 1999 (As Amended), (TO PROVIDE FOR INCLUSION AND PROTECTION OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES), which you the Honorable Speaker of the House of Representative, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, directly sponsored, which was passed by the House..

“Sir, on December 3, 2020, during the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, in response to our multiple letters, requests and submissions/relief requests, which we made, to the National Assembly’s Committee on, Amendment of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, you directly made huge historic LEGACY by establishing a House Standing Committee on Disabilities. On the same day, you also appointed its committee members, with the Hon. Princess Mirian Onuoha as the Chairperson.

“Sir, you also, made huge historic LEGACY by being the first in history of Nigeria, who made excellent choice in appointing a person with disability, Barrister Abdulsalam Idowu Kamaldeen, Esq., as one of your Legislative Staff, Special Adviser on Special Needs and Equal Opportunity, representing Nigerians with Disabilities.

“Therefore sir, per the aforementioned, we move to assure you that your multiple, great, historic achievements and LEGACIES made within two years of being sworn into office, as the Hon. Speaker of the 9th National Assembly’s House of Representatives, must be well documented and achieved, inside the proposed President Muhmmadu Buhari’s Presidential library and Disability Museum to be built. They shall always be passed down from one Generation of Nigerians with Disabilities to another for centuries to come.

“Since 1914 history of the amalgamation of Nigeria by the British and October 1, 1960 Nigeria’s Independence and October 7, 1960, which our Federal Republic of Nigeria joined the membership of the United Nations to sign and ratify its Charter and Treaty Agreement, also signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its accompanying Optional Protocol, on March 30, 2007 as well as September 24, 2010, respectively; this is the first time both the Legislative and Executive Branches of Government, attempted to include Nigerians with Disabilities and serous, complex constitutional issues as part of the Nigerian Constitution.

“The historic Disability Bill, mandated that, “The Bill May be cited as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2021,” Whereby, “The Bill seeks to amend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to provide for inclusion and protection of Persons with Disabilities.”

“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria1999 (as amended) (herein referred to as the “Principal Act”) is further amended as set out in this Bill’” on its sections, 147 (sub-section 3); 151 (sub-section 4 and 1); 192 (sub-section) 6); 196 (sub-section 5).

“Section 147 is amended by including the word “and shall include persons with disabilities,” after the last word “state” in the last paragraph of Sub-Section 3;

“Any appointment under Sub-Section (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of Sub-Section (14(3) of this Constitution. Provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each State, who shall be an indigene of such State and Shall include persons with disabilities;

“Section 151 is amended by including a new sub-section (4) to read; The President while exercising the power conferred in sub-section (1) of this section, shall include person(s) with disabilities:

“Section 196 is amended by including a new sub-section (5) to read: The Government while exercising the power conferred in sub-section 1 of this section shall include person(s) with disabilities;

The Disability Bill concluded that; “Amendment of Part II: Concurrent Legislative List, of the Second Schedule (Legislative Powers), is amended by including a new item 31 to read:
(a) Of persons with Disabilities and or Disability Matters

  1. “The National Assembly may make laws for the Federation with respect to the welfare of persons with disabilities and or disability matters;
  2. “Nothing in Paragraph 31 hereof shall preclude a House of Assembly from making laws with respect to the welfare of persons with disabilities and disability matters provided it shall not be in consistent with any law made by the National Assembly.”

“We also thank the Hon. Princes Miriam Onuoha, Chair, House Committee on Disability Matters and Barr. Abdulsalam Idowu Kamaldeen, Special Adviser on Special Need and Equal Opportunity to the Rt. Hon. Speaker for helping you to make multiple historic disability legacies.

“We wish to appeal to the National Assembly through its oversight functions to pay more attention to the implementation of the law when passed because the implementation of Nigerian laws has been a great challenge but it is surmountable when everyone plays his part genuinely.

“Those great historic legacies made by the Rt. Honorable speaker, if implemented truthfully, shall be helping both the Legislative and Executive Branches of the Government of the Federation of Nigeria, to address Nigeria’s ongoing epidemic of hunger, joblessness, unemployment, post traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), insecurity, insurgency, terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery, irreconcilable community disputes. While it guarantees the rights of the people living with disabilities as Nigerians, it would also cause them to be committed to their obligations so they can also make their contributions to nation-building. We thank the Honorable Speaker for extending an invitation to us, to come and witness the great Historic legacy made.,” the group stated

In recognition of the contributions of the American government to the achievement, the ERPWDI also stated that, “We thank the United States Government for providing us, Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities International, Inc and our Allies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which we successfully used in making multiple historic LEGACIES, whereby in response to our lobbying, advocacy and negotiations, on November 8, 2018 and November 21, 2018 respectively, the 9th National Assembly’s House of Representatives and Senate, passed into law the, Discrimination Against Person with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018; On January 23, 2019, HE President Muhamamdu Buhari, assented it into law; on August 28, 2020, he established its independent Implementation National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD); and on March 30, 2007 and September 24, 2010, respectively, our Federal Republic of Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo, Late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua and President Goodluck Jonathan, signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its accompanying Optional Protocol.

In recognition of the efforts made by the JONAPWD over the years to make the dream become reality, the group said, “We thank Miss Omotunde Ellen Thompson, who is the Secretary BoT, JONAPWD and President Center for Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities for providing us with physical representation at all of the meetings and events we held in Nigeria as well as continuing to represent us in directly witnessing that historic Legacy.

The Bill sponsored by the Speaker House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila “A BILL FOR AN ACT TO AMEND THE PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, 1999 (As Amended), (TO PROVIDE FOR INCLUSION AND PROTECTION OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES) passds its second reading at the National Assembly last week.

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