Nigerian government re-validates national Policy on disability

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The Federal Government with support from the Department of International Development (DFID) has revalidated and presented the revised National Policy on Disability in Nigeria to stakeholders for validation.

Hajiya Aisha Alhassan, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, who stated this while addressing stakeholders in Abuja, said that apart from the validation, the ministry would develop a draft document on federal government’s commitment to the upcoming global disability summit in United Kingdom.

Represented by Mrs Nkechi Onwukwe, Acting Director of Rehabilitation in the ministry, Alhassan said government would present a formidable document to address disability issues facing Nigeria at the summit.

She added that the policy document would provide more opportunities for the population of Nigerians living with disabilities.

“The review of the policy and programmes provide the premise for the update in order to make it more responsive to the huge population of persons with disabilities who are in need of one support or the other. The policy will also provide more opportunity to strategically engage with community members, and other key stakeholders to provide adequate and appropriate support for full integration of persons with disabilities in Nigeria,’’ she said.

The minister said that government had demonstrated strong will and commitment towards issues of disability in Nigeria.

She promised that the ministry would not relent in ensuring that advocacy, sensitisation and capacity building to improve the lives of persons with disability were sustained.

Dr Israel Balogun, representative of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, said that the policy was aimed at addressing the social model of disability.

He said that the association had educated the policy makers that disability was beyond charity, medical and social responsibility, adding that disability is a human right issue.

“UN Convention on the right of persons which disability which Nigeria was a signatory also made disability a human right issue, we noted that the policy did not address disability as a human right issue,’’ he said.

Balogun said that the policy review would help develop a framework which the implementation strategy would rest on.

“When you have a policy it is like a guide for the implementation of programmes that focus on person with disabilities. However, we need a legal framework that would back the policy and make it bite. For instance, if we have a national disability bill that is signed into law, one can sue government on its failure to implement some sections of the Act,’’ he explained.

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