In response to the claim by Presidential Candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), His excellency Atiku Abubakar that APC government is not implementing disability act after signing it into law in 2019, the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons with disabilities (NCPWD), Mr. James Lalu said that President Muhammadu Buhari has been very passionate about Persons with disabilities and has been doing everything possible to implement disability act which he signed into law.
The Qualitative Magazine reports that the executive secretary of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD), James Lalu, while speaking to journalists in Abuja on Thursday, December 8, said Atiku who was a vice president under the PDP for eight years did nothing for PWDs and he did not check his fact well before saying that APC government is not implementing disability act during the inauguration of PDP PWDs Presidential Campaign team.
He informed that PWDs encounter with President Buhari, started in 2014 in Lafia, Nasarawa state during his consultation with disability community as part of his campaign for 2015 presidential election. He promised PWDs that when he become president, he will assent to the disability bill once it comes to his table. On 17th January, 2019, he kept his promise by signing disability bill into law and end the struggle of 19 years by Nigerians with disabilities. In 17th August, 2020, he set up a modality for implementation by establishing a National Commission for Persons with disabilities (NCPWD). He appointed members of the governing board who are persons with disabilities from six geo-political zones and the Executive Secretary which shows that the process of implementation has started.
“President Buhari was able to listen to the cries of PWDs”.
He informed that one major reason why disability bill has been rejected severally in the past was the claim that there is no source to fund the commission. He asked why is President Buhari gets the money to fund the commission now.
“Abubakar was a Vice President under the PDP for eight years, yet he made no impact on the lives of PWD”s.
“During the first and second terms of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the PDP, the disability community struggled, even when the bill was passed by the National Assembly severally, Atiku and PDP did not sign it into law”.
“I can still remember when the disability community went out to protest and called the attention of the then government, the only result we got was that we were tear-gased”.
He called on PDP Presidential Candidate to focus on convincing his running mate, Governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, that the disability law had not been passed or signed in his state, Gov. Aminu Tambulwal, the law was passed in Sokoto State, but he is yet to sign and implement it, Governor of Adamawa who is yet to sign the disability bill into law and many states controlled by PDP are yet to domesticate the disability law.
Mr. Lalu said the inauguration of PWDs campaign team for PDP was nothing to write home about if PDP in their time failed to sign the bill into law as PDP controlled states were not ready to care for PWDs. The disability community now knows the people that know the road and favour them.
“We will always appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari. He is the best friend of disability community and PWDs”.
“It is painful to see politicians not checking their facts very well and condemn what others have done for persons with disabilities, please politicians should not play politics with the plights of persons with disabilities”
“Whoever that wins that next election, we the disability community are committed towards ensuring the disability inclusive development is upheld”
He read out some of the achievements of the commission such as modifications of some universities such as Usman Danfodio University Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and University of Ilorin, Kwara where the commission provided ramps and accessible toilets.
Lalu also stressed that Disability Desks had been established in all commands of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, adding that the commission also put in place strategies to help PWDs in all Police stations across the country.
The Commission is working tirelessly to start scholarship scheme which many application has been received waiting for commencement soon.
He added that the commission in partnership with other organizations of persons with disabilities to enhance access to voting pattern at polling units by PWDs because PWDs needs to vote to elect a candidate of their choice.
“We will access the candidates and score them based on their track record, we will not judge you based on your promises but based on what you have done for PWDs in the past”.
“As far as disability community is concerned, Buhari is the best president in the history of the country. He has set a standard and the next government would have to maintain and improve upon it.
“Ordinarily, this should not have attracted our response, but it is very important for us to put the record straight so that every Nigerian would know the truth and the Buhari’s achievements for PWDs,” Lalu said.
“We should look at the vehicle of all these presidential candidates and know the one that have promoted disability inclusion, and the one political party is prominent on this is APC”.