President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has pledged to assist Persons Living With Disabilities (PLWDs) with budgetary support and review of legal impediments towards their well-being.
Saraki said this on Thursday when he received the PLWDs under the aegis of Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) during which he promised to review the N80 million allocation in the 2016 budget for rehabilitation of persons living with disabilities.
While acknowledging that the allocation was low and should be reviewed upwards he said the nation must work hard to ensure that talented people, though living with disability are not deprived of attention and support.
He told his guests: “I want to assure you that the 8th Senate are truly committed to rejig and redefine the issues, I think the problem in the past had been that of making it a priority and setting it as an agenda. The issue of access to justice, access to buildings and other rights that you deserve as Nigerians will be granted and we need to start that journey.
“Starting that journey is of course looking at the 2016 budget as we bring its conclusion to see what we can do there that shows that there is inclusion. We will strengthen our own oversight to see that things that have been agreed on the side of the government are implemented.
“I want to assure you that as far as we are here in the Senate, we will not stop, we will protect your rights and ensure that there is a departure from what has happened in the past. We will partner with you, we will ensure that we work closely together, we will look at some of the laws.”
Speaking earlier, Executive Director of CCD, Mr. David Anyaele decried the poor level of treatment meted to people living with disabilities, stressing that access to justice and public buildings was very low and that even buildings of agencies of government charged with their welfare is not accessible to them.
He said: “We conducted a research with support from Ford Foundation and DFID and we visited 6 states and Abuja to appreciate the level of access to citizens with disabilities to public infrastructure. It will interest you to know that more than 99.5 per cent of public infrastructures in Nigeria are not accessible to persons with disabilities.
“All the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that have been earmarked as line MDAs for the policy of rehabilitating persons living with disabilities are not accessible. Even the coordinating ministry: Ministry of Women Affairs is not accessible.”
He further decried the poor allocation in the 2016 budget for the rehabilitation of persons living with disability, saying “with 25 million Nigerians living with disability, many families are being caged knowing full well that disability does not discriminate, nobody knows who will be next.”
The Executive director also decried the poor access to justice, court houses and police stations. “No sign language interpreter in the courts, no grails for the blind, even no access to court rooms that are upstairs so it is difficult to access justice,” he stated.