….says lack of data negatively impacts PWDs

…Nigeria stands to gain from report

By Gabriel Ewepu, Abuja

A nonprofit research organization, Africa Polling Institute, API, Thursday, explained why domesticating Disability Act remains key to achieving Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, in Nigeria as it would drastically solve myriad of problems affecting the wellbeing of persons with disability at all levels of governance.

The Institute made the assertion during launch of the ‘National Disability Data in Nigeria Report’ in Abuja.

According to API, domestication of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disability Act (2018), is cardinal in achieving the SDGs seamlessly.

API also explained that the report is a key component of the Nigeria Disability Research Project, conducted by API in collaboration with the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, with support from Ford Foundation, was done to develop a reservoir of data of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in Nigeria.

The Acting Executive Director, API, Dr Olugbenga Ogunmefun, lamented lack of data for PWDs has been a negative factor that had caused huge problems and challenges these group of Nigerians face daily.

Ogunmefun opined how imperative it is for Government and private sector to enhance the functionality and productivity of these set of Nigerians whose potential had been ignored, wasted and neglected, however, if deliberate effort is made towards domesticating the Act in all states and the FCT, it would dramatically and drastically change the narrative.

He said: “In 2021, we had a grant from the Ford Foundation to go into the disability community to gather data and to have an action research.

“Particularly as regards the domestication of the Disability Act as signed by President Muhammadu Buhari and we did that and we have four reports at the end of the whole exercise.

“The first is the Action Research which has to do with why states have not domesticated the Act, the challenges and differences in it.

“The second has to do with the sexual and gender based violence and violence against people with disabilities.

“The other one is that we integrated indicators into the national survey carried out by the National Bureau of Statistics with over 56,000 sample size and we gathered the data.

“The last one is the tool formulated by our lead Consultant, for use both within the public and private sectors to aid inclusion of persons with disabilities.

“For the section on sexual and gender-based violence against persons with disabilities for instance, we found that those violence are done by those closest to them.

“For the Action Research, there are lack of political will for some states, as at the time we went into the field, we found out that only 13 states out of the 36 states and the FCT have domesticated the Act.

“We also found out from the data that there are so many inhibitions on the path of Nigerians that live with disabilities but the tool that we have developed is something that will enable MDAs and private institutions to make sure that there is inclusiveness for persons with disabilities.”

Meanwhile, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Lagos State University and a Scholar on the project, Prof Elias Wahab, stressed the important for Nigeria to promote an inclusive society for all.

“Nigeria will gain a lot from this report because if we look at the SDGs, about five of them concerns persons with disabilities.

“When we provide access to equal education for all Nigerians, irrespective of any form of disability, access to science and innovation, access to good employment, access to quality way of life amongst other will be beneficial to Nigerians.

“The Federal Government should make sure other states domesticate the Act and once domesticated, implementation will make sure that people with disabilities are given their rights of place”, he said.

Also speaking was a Consultant to API,Dr Israel Balogun, called for massive awareness and sensitization programmes showing the critical condition of PWDs in order for Nigerians to appreciate, respect and give them sense of belonging.

“There a lot of barriers that persons with disabilities face, ranging from attitudinal, legislative and policy barrier, information and communication as well as environmental barriers.

“However, these barriers are everywhere but we need to change our orientation and there is need for awareness to be raised so that people will know that disabilities is not only about visible disabilities.

“We need to change attitude of people and so that they can accept persons with disabilities as equal”, Balogun said.

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