U.S pledges to support Nigeria in implementing its Disability Act
By Our reporter
Dec. 3, 2020- In commemoration of the International Day of Persons with disabilities, the United States Mission in Nigeria has pledged to support Nigeria for a successful implementation of the Persons with Disability Act to ensure their full inclusion into society.
Ms Jean Clark, Spokesperson for the U.S Embassy in Abuja made this known on Thursday in Abuja during an event and film screening organised by the Embassy to commemorate the global event.
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari had on Jan. 23, 2018 signed into law the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities Act, following nine years of relentless advocacy by disability rights groups and activists.
Clark said this year’s celebration also coincides with the 30th anniversary of the landmark legislation, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) which opened doors for persons with disabilities to participate fully and independently in the American society.
She said that since ADA became a law in America three decades ago, it has facilitated greater opportunities for Americans with disabilities to engage in their communities.
Clark said the implementation of the legislation improved access to employment for persons with disabilities, access to government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities and public transportation.
She said the U.S mission in Abuja will share successful experiences of ADA with Nigeria to strengthen the implementation of disability rights in Nigeria.
“Engaging and reaching out to people with disabilities is a major priority for the U.S Embassy’s program in Nigeria.
“I am also delighted to be here today for a program that promotes element of sports, and youth inclusion for persons with disabilities.
“We here at the U.S Embassy will continue to show our commitments to promoting equal opportunities for persons with disabilities, particularly by empowering our alumni and hosting programs such as this.
“As Nigerians and Americans share a passion for different sports which bring us together, we recognise that sports serve as a unifier and a catalyst for challenge.
“Therefore, we continue to advocate for increased participation of persons with disability in sports and for provision of sports equipment for them.
“Aside from helping these young people exert their energies in a positive activity, this program demonstrated our commitment to promoting capacity building for youths with disability as well as increasing their participation and inclusion.
“With the passage of the disability rights legislation in Nigeria, we encourage continued partnerships to explore opportunities and support increased participation of persons with disability in sports.
“We also encourage the reflection on the American Disability Rights to strengthen the implementation of disability rights in Nigeria.
“Our interest is in sharing our experience and helping to help Nigeria become a more inclusive society as your legislators has recognised through that bill,” Clark said.
Mr Isreal Balogun, Technical Coordinator, Project and Inclusion, Christoffel Blinden Mission, Nigeria who joined the event virtually also reiterated the need for the implementation of the Disability Act.
Balogun said that a lot of barriers exists in Nigeria when it comes to persons with disabilities across all sectors, health, educations, sports, hence the need for governments and stakeholders to chat the way forward.
He added that the emergence of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has also created huge humanitarian crisis and persons with disabilities have been affected even worse.
“The government is trying to do its best but there is a need for adequate social protection measures, creating enabling environments.
“That will enable persons with disabilities to be able to fit into the society on an equal basis with people without disabilities.
“It is a human right issue, it is a right-based issue and also a development issue.
“So for us as a country, I think learning from what has happened in America where there is very good social support system is very important.
“There is need for stakeholders, government, international state actors to sit and chat a way forward.
“We have a national policy, we have a disability Act, it is the implementation and how they will go about it.
“We need to carry everybody along, there is need for awareness creation, ethical reorientation, there is need for a change in addressing the barriers that people with disabilities across all boards.
“Currently in COVID-19 a lot of people with disabilities are lacking social protection across the humanitarian crisis that is happening globally,” Balogun said.
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