From:Femi Oyelola, Kaduna
A coalition of Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and other relevant stakeholders has urged the Kaduna State Government to speedily pass the bill for persons with disabilities.
The Chairman, Kaduna chapter of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JNAPWD) Sulaiman Abdulaziz, made the plea at an advocacy visit to Kaduna State Rehabilitation Board yesterday.
Abdulaziz said the bill for persons with disabilities had overstayed for about eight years and had not been passed as a law.
According to him, if the bill is passed, it will give persons with disabilities the legal backings in the state to mainstream into the society and have sense of belongings.
“The bill has passed first and second reading and then fell back again, after then, for quite a long time nothing has happened concerning the bill again,” he said.
He noted that enactment of bill for persons with disabilities into law was one of the promises made by the current administration of Kaduna State during its campaign before it emerged on the helm of affairs of the state.
“The first tenure has since elapsed, yet nothing has come up concerning the bill; at the national level, the bill has been passed and implemented, it has taken about eight years here in the state despite that the idea came before the national,” he lamented.
Abdulaziz also lamented that despite having a national act for people with disabilities, it does not give full legal backings at state levels and that prompted them to come up with their our own state bill.
“One good aspect of our own bill is that it has a trust fund, anything that has to do with disability really needs funds to be implemented, lacking such at the national level took about a year before it was domesticated,” he said.
He, however, said the Kaduna state government was trying to synergize the disability act and the trust fund so as to have accountability and ease for anybody overseeing the affairs of the board.
He also noted that the cause of the delay in passing the bill was as result of sending it to the state House of Assembly as a private bill not as executive which made it lack political will.
In his response, Executive Director of the Kaduna State Rehabilitation Board, Alhaji Aliyu Yakasai said the visit came at the right time.
“This is what we at the board have been looking for; for people to come and support and join hands with us in order to actualise the passage of the bill for persons with disabilities in the state.
He noted that the bill was currently before the ministry of justice for insertion of all the items that were observed during an executive council meeting on the draft bill.
“We are hopeful that before the end of first quarter of 2021, the bill will be passed,” Yakasai said.
He recalled that the joint association of persons with disabilities initiated the bill privately which he said contributed to the delay in passage of the bill.
“When they drafted the bill and sent it to the state house of assembly twice, the assembly turned it down because It did not meet the requirements of a private bill and they were asked to come back and involve all the critical relevant stakeholders in drafting it,” he said.
Yakasai also noted that drafting the bill afterwards, took them almost three months and then the present administration came in and Hajiya Hadiza El-Rufai showed interest and suggested they send it as an Executive bill.
“If all the initial drafting started as an executive and the previous administration gave it all the necessary support it required, we would have been through by now.
“However, I consider the delay as a blessing because a lot of happenings have led to inclusion and incorporation of many things into the bill which if it had been passed hitherto will become things of great concerns,” Yakasai said.
Also speaking, Mr Joshua James of Jalad Media Concept, the technical support team lead of the groups, said the co-creation spirit and establishment of a permanent dialogue mechanism in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) implemented by the Kaduna government made it possible for citizens to effectively interrogate governance processes in the state.
“One of the areas of the OGP is inclusion for marginalised groups for women, youths, children and especially persons with disabilities,” he said.
He noted that the reason for the advocacy visit was to harness the opportunities as enshrined in the OGP to know the status of the bill for persons with disabilities in the state.
“We are also going to visit all the agencies and ministries in the state who are connected in various ways with the marginalised groups, we started the visit here to be able to look for areas where all stakeholders can coordinate and strengthen collaboration.
“Good enough for us, the state governor has much interest in people living with disabilities in the state, so we basically want to know what is happening as far as the bill is concerned.
“We are sure that when passed into law, the bill will provide succour and better life for persons with disabilities in the state,” James said.