A Disabled Nigerian Youth Corper has taken to social media to share a bitter experience he had at his primary place of assignment (PPA) during service.
It is a known fact that the sight of persons living with disabilities on the streets of various cities across Nigeria begging for alms, is not only depressing but also has left a lasting impression on the minds of Nigerians about such people.
This perception being that such persons can’t do anything or any hard labour apart from begging.
Mostly, they are seen as the destitute, poor, feeble and dependent individuals who rely on handouts from the rest of the society for survival.
However, in actual sense, disability should not pose a hindrance to any human in attaining greatness, especially in a society where equality of opportunity is regarded as a fundamental right.
If given the opportunity and they are treated like every other citizen in the country, persons with disabilities can contribute significantly to the socio-economic development of the nation.
One living proof that disability does not equate inability, is a young man identified as Michael Thompson (@Cycogreat) –who recently took to his twitter page to reveal that while he was serving in 2015, he was rejected at his primary place of assignment (PPA) because the owner felt he could not climb the stairs of the school’s 3-storey building. But he explained that he was able to prove the man wrong.
“In 2015, Nysc posted me to a school,the owner rejected me at first saying “how will you climb the stairs!? Its a 3-storey building, you will be teaching Js1-Ss3 mathematics”..Well,I proved him wrong.”
This new bill includes stipulations listed below:
1. The Act prohibits all forms of discrimination against persons with disability. If an individual is found violating this law, he/she will pay a fine of N100,000 or a term of six months imprisonment. The law imposes a fine of one million naira on corporate bodies.
2. Discrimination against such persons is prohibited in public transportation facilities and service providers are to make provision for the physically, visually and hearing impaired and all persons howsoever challenged. This applies to seaports, railways and airport facilities.
3. The rights and privileges of persons with disability include education, health care, priority in accommodation and emergencies.
4. All public organisations are to reserve at least five per cent of employment opportunities for these persons.
5. The Act gives citizens with disabilities the right to file a lawsuit for damage against any defaulter.
6. It provides for a five-year transitional period within which public buildings, structures or automobile are to be modified to be accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, including those on wheelchairs.
7. Before a public structure is constructed, its plans shall be inspected by relevant authorities to ensure that the plan conforms with the building code.
8. A government or government agency, body or individual responsible for the approval of building plans shall not approve the plan of a public building if the plan does not make provision for accessibility facilities in line with the building code.
9. An officer who approves or directs the approval of a building plan that contravenes the building code, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of at least N1,000,000 or a term of imprisonment of two years or both.
10. In Section 31 of the Act, the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities will be established and an Executive Secretary will be appointed as the head of the commission.
Prior to this bill been passed there was some finger pointing between the executives and the legislative house of assembly on why the bill had not been passed after it was presented to first on the house floor, passed and sent to the president where it laid dormant for many months before being signed by the president.
Needless to say, it is one thing to have a law in place to ensure equal opportunities for persons with disability but it is also another to apply the law on every facet of our society.
Persons living with disabilities should be given the same opportunities and fair treatment as everyone else, as long as societies exclude those with disabilities, they will not reach their full potential and the poor in particular will be denied opportunities that they deserve.