By Temitope Ponle
Abuja – Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has urged the different arms of government to make intentional efforts to promote accessibility of persons with disabilities in the country.
Gbajabiamila said this at an event to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities organised by the house on Wednesday.
The speaker said the celebration of the day would enable the government to focus on taking action in line with the United Nations 2030 Development Agenda.
“Among other things, the 2030 Agenda seeks to achieve a world free of inequality and injustice that is its consequence.
“Of all the objectives set out in the agenda, there is none more urgent, more demanding of our commitment and effort, than that which requires us to jointly seek and achieve a drastic reduction in inequality.
“To achieve equal participation, we must be intentional about promoting accessibility.
“As we promote access to education by building schools and hiring teachers, we must make sure also that those classes are accessible to wheelchair users, and the seeing impaired are provided with learning tools that work for them.
“We must all work toward a future where the barriers that stand in the way of people achieving their dreams no longer exist,” he said.
He said it was the moral obligation of Nigerian leaders to “rectify injustice wherever we have the power to,”
Also speaking, Prof. Jibrin Diso from the Department of Special Education, Bayero University, Kano, called for inclusion of persons with special needs in public affairs and services in the country.
Diso, who is visually impaired, said there still existed a “huge deficit inclusion” in the country.
“In spite of the several legislations seeking to confer protection and inclusion for persons with special needs at national and sub-national levels, we have remained grossly underserved and too often discriminated against.
“A cursory gaze at our education system, which is the cornerstone of transforming the individual citizen into a veritable human capital, the needs of persons with special needs are seldom considered.
“The few, like me, who manages to scale through do so at their own peril,” he said.
The professor stressed that public facilities were rarely built with people with special needs in mind.
He urged the speaker to do more to enhance relations with the executive arm of government to “thoroughly and dutifully” implement laws that favoured people with disability.”
Since 1992, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, an international observance day promoted by the United Nations, had been annually observed on Dec. 3 around the world.
The theme for this 2019 IDPD was ‘Promoting the Participation of Persons with Disabilities and their Leadership: Taking Action on the 2030 Development Agenda.