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Stakeholders Advocate for Disaggregated Data to Enhance Disability Act Implementation

In a resounding call to action, stakeholders from diverse sectors converged at the Wells Carlton Hotel in Asokoro, Abuja, for the National Disability Convening. Hosted by the Ford Foundation in collaboration with the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD), the two-day event, themed “Reflecting on Progress, Evaluating the Implementation of the Disability Act in Nigeria,” ignited robust discussions aimed at driving tangible advancements in disability rights across the nation.

House Committee’s Commitment to Disability Inclusion

Hon. Dr. Ayinla Bashiru Dawodu, Chairman of the House Committee on Disabilities, speaking at the convening, affirmed the committee’s steadfast commitment to promoting disability inclusion in Nigeria. Dr. Dawodu highlighted the House of Representatives’ proactive stance, citing the passage of six motions dedicated to advancing the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) within a mere six months. He lauded the groundbreaking decision to introduce a Sign Language Interpreter in the parliament, a monumental step towards fostering inclusivity and accessibility in legislative proceedings.

NCPWD’s Vision for Inclusive Development

Mr. James Lalu, Executive Secretary of NCPWD, expressed gratitude to the Ford Foundation for their steadfast support and underscored the Commission’s unwavering dedication to implementing the Disability Act. Reflecting on the Act’s arduous journey to fruition, Mr. Lalu emphasized the pivotal role of unity within the disability community in driving legislative change. He outlined the Commission’s strategic initiatives, including collaborations with Nasarawa State University to establish a Center for Disability Studies, aimed at nurturing inclusive development through specialized degree programs.

Ford Foundation’s Call for Data-driven Solutions

Dr. Dabesaki Mac-Ikemenjima, Senior Programme Officer at the Ford Foundation, underscored the urgent need for accurate and disaggregated data on disability in Nigeria. Recognizing the dearth of comprehensive data, Dr. Mac-Ikemenjima emphasized the Foundation’s commitment to supporting initiatives aimed at collecting accurate data. By leveraging the right indicators and data collection mechanisms, stakeholders can drive evidence-based policy interventions and pave the way for informed decision-making.

Government’s Pledge to Prioritize Disability Rights

Hon. Mohammed Abba Isa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Special Needs and Equal Opportunity, reiterated the government’s unwavering commitment to prioritizing disability rights. With staunch support from President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration, Hon. Isa emphasized imminent efforts to launch a national accessibility committee to monitor implementation progress. He called for collaborative efforts with strategic partners, including the Ministry of Information, to raise awareness and foster compliance with the Disability Act.

Advocating for Enhanced Funding and Collaboration

Dr. Chike Okogwu, Chief Responsibility Officer of CARE, advocated for increased funding to support PWDs through NCPWD. Emphasizing the indispensable role of adequate funding in effective implementation, Dr. Okogwu urged government and development partners to prioritize financial support for NCPWD’s initiatives. Dr. Toying Aderemi, Senior Global Advisor on Disability Inclusion at Save the Children International, stressed the importance of inclusive approaches, monitoring, accountability, and advocacy in driving Disability Act implementation. She pointed out that many Organizations Of Persons With Disabilities work in silos, which has been proven to have a setback in Disability Act Implementation.

A Call to Action

The National Disability Convening served as a pivotal platform for dialogue, collaboration, and collective action towards advancing disability rights and inclusion in Nigeria. As stakeholders unite in their commitment to driving positive change, the convening underscores the imperative of data-driven solutions, inclusive policies, and collaborative partnerships in realizing the vision of an equitable and inclusive society for all.

(www.qualitativemagazine.com)

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