Love it or hate it, President
Muhammadu Buhari has done more for people living with disabilities than any president in Nigeria's history. The president is therefore the only one in Nigeria
Inclusive president. Your records
speak for him.
He was the first president to recognize that people living with disabilities are also people like the rest of society.
He was the President who recognized that a person living with a disability and well educated could be nominated for
a top position in the government.
President Muhammadu Buhari made history in 2016 when he appointed a person who lives with a disability, Senior
Special Assistant in Disability Matters. Buhari appointed a visually impaired veterinarian, Samuel Inalegwu
Ode Ankeli as your Senior Special Assistant, with the responsibility to advise you and deal with issues relating to people living with disabilities.
Mr. Ankeli was before then chief
of the Directorate of People with Disabilities at the headquarters of the presidential campaign of Buhari / Osinbajo APC, the
first from any department in a political party in Nigeria.
“He led a team that successfully mobilized a large number of more than 24 million people with disabilities in the country to support the APC candidate and his running mate in 2015
presidential election campaign ”, a statement by the president
spokesman, Garba Shehu, said at the time. Mr. Ankeli is from Benue State. He went to school in Giwa, near Zaria
and Kaduna before studying veterinary medicine at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
He worked with the Benue State government before leaving to allow time for his activist role in promoting
of the welfare of the blind
and people with all types of disabilities. He is married, has children.
Ankeli did not disappoint the president by leading the campaign for more rights for people living with disabilities and was reappointed to
position when Nigerians
massively re-elected Buhari for
second term in 2019.
The importance of this is that, the President recognized that people who live
With the Disability Matter, and appointed someone to help you solve that problem. In appointing Ankeli to the position of Senior Special Assistant (a
close to ministerial status), Buhari demonstrated that people living with disabilities can function at the highest level
If there is another president in Nigeria who did this before I stayed
corrected. In the UK and
other parts of the world, people
living with disabilities are given
opportunity to stand out. David Blunkett, a blind man was once cabinet minister in the UK government under David
Cameron's administration and his performance as a minister were never in doubt.
So far in Nigeria, people living with disabilities are rarely invited in the decision-making process to a country
which has more than 25 million people
living with disabilities.
For more than 18 years, disability rights activists and activists have called for a law that addresses all impediments to a better and reasonable
life for people living with disabilities. The National Assembly supported this.
The Disability Law was passed on
law by the National Assembly
under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and the farmer in Ota pushed him away and refused
agree with the bill. People living with disabilities and activists were heartbroken by Obasanjo's decision
because the law was necessary to
combat discrimination against
people living with disabilities.
President Goodluck Jonathan did no better. The National Seventh
Assembly passed Disability
Bill, but without convincing reasons, Jonathan left office without agreeing to the law.
Another missed opportunity. However, the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari offered hope to people
living with disabilities and activists, even more so as the president showed very early that he is an equal opportunity
inclusive president when
created the office of the Senior Special Disability Assistant with a person living with a disability appointed to the position.
Again in 2019, Buhari made history when he consented to the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018. The law prohibits
all forms of discrimination on grounds of disability and impose a fine against offenders.
The law also provides: “Discrimination in public transport facilities is prohibited and service providers must provide for the
physically, visually and listening
impaired and all people challenged in any way. “This applies to seaports, railways and airport facilities.
Rights and privileges include
education, health, priority
in accommodations and emergencies. ”In addition, all public organizations must reserve at least five percent of
job opportunities for this special category of people.
The National Commission for Persons with Disabilities must also be established in accordance with Section 31 of the Law
Executive secretary as chief.
The challenge now is how to ensure that the law is enforced. To effectively enforce the law, the President must, without
Additional delay in establishing the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities and appointing an Executive Secretary
(which must be a person living with a disability) running the commission. The importance of the commission cannot be
According to the Discrimination Against
Disabled Persons Act (Prohibition), 2018, the committee's responsibilities include; formulation and implementation of public policies
lighting, data collection
and recording information about people with disabilities, receiving complaints from people with disabilities
disabilities whose rights have been violated and institution of schemes that promote the well-being of people with disabilities.
If we believe in the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC),
they are movements to establish the commission.
The NHRC said it would partner with the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Aid
Matters in the establishment of the new commission. NHRC Executive Secretary Tony Ojukwu disclosed this in
a statement he issued after a meeting with humanitarian affairs minister Sadiya Farouq recently.
Ojukwu said that while the establishment of the Disability Commission is within the powers of the ministry, the rights committee will play a significant role in protecting
the rights of people with disabilities.
Eighteen months is a long time to wait before the Commission is established, as long as the Law has been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari has already done a lot, but he needs to do more to conduct the process, ensuring that the Commission is established, and he must not allow bureaucrats to further delay the establishment.
Disabilities Act is one of the laws inherited from Muhammadu Buhari, as a
President and he must not allow bureaucrats to undermine him.
-Uwadima is a founder,
Nigeria's Global Advocacy for People with Disabilities.
He writes from Abuja.