The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), the umbrella body of persons with disabilities in Nigeria has said the law which prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities is not effective in the country.
National Assistant Secretary-General of the association, Mr. Yusuff Olatunji Raheem made this disclosure while speaking with DAILY POST in Ibadan.
DAILY POST recalls that President Muhamadu Buhari had in January 2019 signed the Discrimination against persons with disabilities (prohibition) act 2018.
The bill which was jointly passed by both the Senate and House of Representatives was signed into law on 23rd January 2019 by Buhari.
DAILY POST gathered that the law prohibits all forms of discrimination on grounds of disability and imposes a fine of N1, 000, 000 for corporate bodies and N100, 000 for individuals or a term of six months imprisonment for violation concurrently.
But the National Assistant Secretary-General of JONAPWD, Mr. Yusuff Olatunji Raheem in a chat with DAILY POST on Thursday, noted that some public buildings are not still accessible to persons with disabilities especially people in wheelchairs.
Raheem who noted that the law provides that people with disabilities should have access to public buildings such as health facilities, schools, financial institutions and recreation facilities without any hindrances, lamented that many of the people with disabilities find it difficult to access public buildings especially banks, health facilities and educational institutions.
He added that people with disabilities should be allowed to enjoy basic amenities like their counterparts as guaranteed by the law.
Raheem urged Buhari to prevail on all other organs of government to ensure effective implementation of the law.
“When you have a disability in Nigeria, it is a very challenging thing for you because of so many misconceptions. The worse part of it is that discrimination about disabilities. Stereotyping. When you have disabilities in Nigeria, it makes your life so difficult.
“The way public buildings are constructed, majority of them are not disability friendly. They are not humane for us, which makes it difficult for us to enjoy our country. The majority of public buildings are not accessible to us. Banks, all these private institutions, if you go there you will hardly see anyone that is accessible to people with disabilities. So, that makes life very difficult for us.
“If you go to banks, you want to activate your ATM or token, you are being deprived because they do not have ramps. But, if you look at the government of the day, President Muhamadu Buhari assented to the discrimination against persons with disabilities act in 2019 and one of the provisions in that bill is that all public buildings must be accessible to persons with disabilities.
“But, the law is not effective, it is yet to be implemented after two years of passage. Accessibility to all public buildings must be provided for people with disabilities according to the law.
“All public buildings, schools, event centres, banks, health facilities even failure to do that would attract fine. The law provides that people with disabilities also have equal rights with others in society. It stated that we should not discriminate against persons with disabilities but the law is not effective.
“The law says that employees should reserve five per cent of job opportunities for persons with disabilities, but I know that even two per cent are not employed.
“Discrimination against persons with disabilities law is a very good thing if the government makes it effective. So, the life of over 30 million Nigerians with disabilities should be priotised by the government.”