Kalu Seeks Review of Disability Act, Advocates for 5% Employment Quota for PWDs

 

The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu has called for the amendment of Disability Act to provide for at least, 5 % quota of employment for People Living with Disabilities (PWDs).

He also pledged the parliament’s readiness to evaluate a suggestion that 10% percent of all social intervention projects of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government should be dedicated to the welfare of PWDs even as he accepted to the special request of becoming the face of the people.

The developments emanated from a courtesy call paid on the deputy speaker by the trio of the Nigerian Institute of Architects; the Chairman, Accelerate Disability in Emergencies Forum,
Agbo Christian Obiora and the Chief Executive Officer of TAF Africa,
Jake Epelle who also pleaded for the protection and welfare of the PWDs under the law over the weekend in Abuja.

Kalu said “I am pledging that we are going to support and champion compliance of, at least, 5% quota of employments for PWDs. Also support inclusion of PWDs into a joint board of FAAN, federal government agencies and related bodies to include your views in the ways that things are done on the table of decision making. So, you can take home that we are going to review the Disability Act, as well as every law that has to do with your space.

“Talking about disability, I think there is a need for us to also look at that particular Act and see if there is a way to amend it to include 10% quota for public infrastructures. You just mentioned when we are discussing social interventions that something needs to be done around that space. I agree with you.

“As the deputy speaker of the House, I have listened to your interventions, especially with already existing laws and also the upcoming bills.

“You are comfortable with the existing laws only to the extent of their effective compliance. It is your take that we are not complying with these laws as it is supposed to be, because you are not on the table. You are saying you want to be on the table when it comes to measuring compliance level of these legislations that we put in place and that falls under what we call post legislative scrutiny.

“So, periodic appraisal of these laws to be able to point out holes and gaps that need to be filled, becomes a necessity as a good instrument for the legislature as well as the executive because the executive is executing and we are legislating. We cannot keep on legislating from one legislation to another without knowing how far the ones we legislated have been executed, in compliance.

“And that is one thing you also pointed out today. And it is a take home. It is a take home for us as legislature to go and look at the legislations around their space and how we have lived in their complying with the expectations of that legislation, especially as it concerns people with disability. And in the spirit of inclusivity, how have we fared?

“Let me conclude by saying, you can count on us. The Office of the Deputy Speaker, you can count on us. We are open and will remain open to people with disability and have accepted to be the face. Let me repeat, as pleaded by TAF, I have accepted to be the face of the disabled people. If you are looking for an ambassador of disabled people in Nigeria, people with disability, you can count on my fine face. Because this face represents the beauty of your mind, the content of your character and what you are going to bring on board.”

Earlier in her presentation, the President of Nigerian Institute of Architects, Arc. Mobolaji Adeniyi expressed gratitude to the National Assembly for the PWDs Act 2018 which she said recognized the need for all buildings in Nigeria to address the accessibility needs of PWDs.

“While this law has been in effect, compliance has been below expectation. In area of approval to new buildings, it’s important that the necessary compliance certificates issued by architects are stipulated in the laws. It’s very important.
This gives the necessary instruments, the backing of the law and make them more potent. Not only will compliance increase, the quality of implementation will be improved”, she said.

Similarly, the Chairman, Accelerate Disability in Emergencies Forum, Agbo Christian Obiora who spoke on behalf of PWDs said “We, the PWDs seek your support to sponsor an amendment to PWDs act to make it compulsory that 10% percent of all social intervention projects of MDAs to be dedicated to the welfare of people living with disability.
We want your colleagues to ensure that the federal government introduce affordable transportation system that’s accessible for persons with disabilities.”

On his part, the CEO of TAF, Africa, Mr. Jake Epelle who is a disability inclusion champion said “I would love for you to become the face of persons living with disability.”

He added that “With the ongoing constitution amendment, we need one holistic bill that you can sponsor so that at the end of the review we have a PWDs friendly legislation”.

 

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