By Peter Uwumarogie
Gombe – The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD),has urged both the Gombe State House of Assembly and the State Government to pass the Disability Bill.
Mr Yusuf Yahaya, the Gombe Zonal Coordinator, JONAPWD, made the call in a written appeal made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Gombe on Monday.
Yahaya said the state needed to emulate its counterparts that have passed the Bill to protect the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) across the state.
Yahaya, who is hearing-impaired said his group was making the demand in the interest of equity and inclusiveness as well as well-being of PWDs in the state.
“The non-passage of the Bill is affecting us to a great extent unlike other states that joined the Federal Government by passing, assenting and establishing the Disability Right Commission or Agency to implement it.
“If the Bill is passed, Gombe State will not only promote the rights and welfare of PWDs like free education and health, but also ensure that communication barriers in hospitals and higher institutions will be minimised.
“Because it will compel for the provision of sign language interpreters in schools, hospitals for the benefit of the Deaf and hearing impaired.
“ It will also ensure reserved employment opportunities in state Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MFAs) for PWDs,” he said.
Yusuf stated that PWDs were being confronted with a lot of challenges on a daily basis in almost all sectors of life and with such a Bill passed, things would be better towards improving the livelihood of PWDs.
Recounting his experience while in the university, Yusuf, 27, a graduate of Political Science from Gombe State University said he spent his years without interpreters.
He said: “This is what I don’t want for my younger ones and other PWDs in the state and the only way to address that is to have the Bill passed in Gombe State.”
The zonal coordinator commended Gov. Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State for showing goodwill towards PWDs in the recent employment of teachers in the state.
“I want to thank Yahaya for ensuring the Teachers Service Commission reserved 20 per cent of the recent 1, 000 teachers recruitment for PWDs even though the Bill has not been passed.
“This is a good step and we need further steps towards the quick passage of the bill in the state,”he said.
Yusuf appealed to stakeholders in the education, health and other sectors to provide sign language interpreters for the deaf and provide ramps in their facilities to make movements easy for PWDS.
He said, ” it is unfortunate that many PWDs had to crawl like babies to enter class and hospitals due to lack of ramps, while hearing-impaired people suffer communication barriers.”
NAN reports that President Muhammadu Buhari, had on Jan.23 signed into law the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act.(NAN)