By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
THE Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has urged State governors to work towards ensuring the domestication of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act in their respective domains.
Speaking at the National Summit on Disability Inclusion for Religious Leaders in Nigeria held in Abuja on Wednesday, the CAN President and co-Chair of NIgeria Interreligious Council (NIREC), Archbishop Daniel Okoh, explained that initiating the law across the 27 states of the federation which are yet to do so would promote the interest of people living with disability and address their diverse challenges.
Okoh, therefore, urged the relevant arms of government in the state to close ranks and ensure the passage of the legislation at the sub-national level without delay in order to improve the plight of people with disability. According to him, people with disabilities are in the category of citizens who feel marginalised. Nevertheless, he said they will be given a sense of hope, confidence and self-worth if the law is adopted by more states; guaranteeing equal inclusion, right to employment and socio economic lives of affected persons.
He said, “The government of Nigeria has taken some steps to address the needs of persons with disabilities. One of such significant steps was the ratification of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018, though implementation is not yet on a full scale but it was a step in the right direction.
“About nine states in the Federation have enacted disability laws to safeguard the rights of persons with disabilities with considerable degrees of implementation till date. All we need to do, using our various positions of influence, is to encourage more state governments to enact and enforce these same laws as well. If we must forge a disability-inclusive society, we must support all existing disability inclusion legislations in Nigeria. There is ability in disability, but this can only be true, if we make them part of the society through deliberate inclusivity.
“It is an undeniable fact that Persons with disabilities in Nigeria persistently face stigma, discrimination, and barriers to accessing basic social services and economic opportunities. They even face greater barriers in accessing public places including places of worship, meetings, convention centres and public buildings.
Okoh pledged the support of NIREC to the Commission on Persons with Disabilities, and also urged all faith leaders to continue to advocate that Persons Living with Disabilities are mainstreamed in the activities of churches and mosques; saying “Our concerted efforts at raising awareness on disability inclusiveness would be very instrumental in shifting negative perceptions and stigma against them.”