This was made known by the Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA) Garba Abari during an inclusion and diversity meeting by the Accountability Lab Nigeria and Inclusive Friends Association on Tuesday, August 31, 2021, at the NOA DG’s conference hall. The meeting was organized to grease the agency’s strategies in popularizing the Discrimination Against Persons with Disability (Prohibition) Act 2018.
Stating the purpose of the visit, the program officer for Accountability Lab Nigeria Shiiwua Nnenga ushered the conversation which centered around the implementation of the Disability Act specifically, the provisions for building structures accessibilities, rights, and privileges of PWDs, employments, and also seek an increased tempo in publicizing the Disability Acts by the agency.
“We Accountability Lab under our engagements on inclusion, we have been doing activities to facilitate the plight of PWDs as well as women and youth. For this visit, we are taking a bearing from the Disability Act which was accented by His Excellency in 2019. There are provisions we feel that by now Nigerians should be familiar with it and then we will also have been experiencing greater compliance of these provisions and then a vast majority of Nigerians must have been abreast of these provisions. We feel that making a call to your office will help amplify the essential provisions of this Act so that in most instances PWDs are marginalized or intimidated will not have such development anymore. We have a challenge to accessible structures, their rights, and privileges, employments which the Act gives 5%, airport boarding, etc“…
Nnenga further urged the Agency to reach out to sister agencies and work towards the compliance of the provisions of the Disability Act and to enlighten the public through their news bulletins and national campaigns.
The NOA DG, Garba Abari while responding to the call states that the agency had earlier organized a roundtable to discuss together with Organizations Persons Disabilities (OPDs) to harness the contents of the disability Act and how to engage the general polity.
“NOA has been working with the OPDs with regards to the Disability Act, I think earlier this year, we had a round table specifically on the Disability Act. The purpose of the round table was to interrogate the issues about the Act and to realize that the Act had been signed for 2 years and more with very little implementation of Act. We in the NOA have a sense of expanding the frontiers of the lives of citizens therefore, people with disabilities should have much and equal rights as with others”.
Further in the call, speaking through a socioeconomic lens, Abari highlighted the economic opportunity for implementing the Disability Act as it will set in motion, idle skills.
Garba states that there will be opportunities for skilled laborers to be contracted as most buildings are ill-accessible for persons with disabilities hence, restructuring public buildings will engage skilled laborers’ services.
“Speaking purely from the socioeconomic dimension of the implementation of the Act by way of gingering the economy, because many buildings, for example, have no provision for disability access, and this will bring in a lot of plumbers, create jobs for engineers, builders, for business, artisans, etc these are some of the things we require at a time like this when we have a large chunk of or skilled labor are there but lying idle”.
Abari equally, tasked the coalition to open conversations towards increase participation of the marginalized groups including PWDs as the agency intends to commence a national debate about young people and PWDS engagements in the political space, and also to interrogate the effect of the Age Reduction Act passed in 2018 on young people.
Responding to the call, the Inclusive Friends Association’s program officer Stephen Idoko commending on the platform states the plans being developed to engage the agency through a national discussion with regards to the participation of PWDs in the political space.
“Narrowing down to PWDs, we are engaging directlywith the communities of PWDs and are making strides towards increasing the participation of PWDs in the political space through political organizing training. We will like to engage your agency in the discussion as we look forward to organizing national civic and political engagements with PWDs drawn from across the nation, am confident that NOA can play a vital role in that engagement”.
The coalition also used the opportunity to present to the NOA DG research publications on the cost of inclusive elections for persons with disabilities and the manual on the use of sign language interpreters in Nigeria.