President Muhammadu Buhari has assented to the Discrimination Against Persons with disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018. That is good news.
- The law prohibits all forms of discrimination against people with disability and fines of N1,000,000 for corporate bodies and N100,000 for individuals or a term of six months imprisonment for violation.
- The Act provides for a five-year transitional period within which public buildings, structures or automobile are to be modified to be accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, including those in wheelchairs.
- “Before erecting any public structure, its plan shall be scrutinized by the relevant authority to ensure that the plan conforms with the building code. A government or government agency, body or individual responsible for the approval of building plans shall not approve the plan of a public building if the plan does not make provision for accessibility facilities in line with the building code.”
- “Discrimination is prohibited in public transportation facilities and service providers are to make provision for the physically, visually and hearing impaired and all persons howsoever challenged. This applies to Seaports, Railways and Airport facilities.”
- Other rights afforded to people with disabilities under the bill include education, healthcare, priority in accommodation and emergencies.
- With regards to employment, the bill stipulates that at least 5% of all employment opportunities be reserved for people with disabilities.
- Additionally, a National Commission for Persons with Disabilities has also been established in accordance with section 31 of the bill.
But here is why you should be worried: As said earlier, this is a good bill. The concern however is what the lead-up to the signing of the bill revealed about the presidency. About a week ago, President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo were on #TheCandidates, a town hall event hosted by Kadaria Ahmed. She put the question of why the bill is yet to be signed to the both of them and their responses were shocking. They both blamed the National Assembly (as they frequently are quick to do).
“I think we sent it to the National Assembly,” Buhari said.
The Vice President took it a step further and manufactured a demonstration. “Even as of Wednesday, there was a demonstration in front of the National Assembly where they were saying that they were giving the National Assembly seven days to transmit the bill to the presidency.”
The problem was that no such demonstration took place on Wednesday because the bill had been with the presidency since December 18th, and even acknowledged. The fact that both the president and vice president were unaware about this reveals some dysfunction in the presidency. They ought to apologise for such ignorance, at best, or for deliberately misleading Nigerians. But for now, we are just glad the law has been finally signed.