Aisha Salisu Babangida
The Dilemma Of People Living With Disabilities
Think for instance accessing a building for a shopping transaction without your two legs, think of alighting from a taxi, exchanging change with a cap driver without the gift of sight, doing your laundry without your two arms. Also think of crossing the high ways without the gift of sight, think of putting on your cloth without your two hands. This is the typical example of difficulties people with disabilities go through in everyday of their lives
Able-bodied persons often take their physical health for granted without any consideration of people living with disabilities. In all, analysis shows that, such misguided perception tends to limit persons with disabilities from reaching their full potentials and limiting their potential contribution to Nigerian economy. This therefore calls for full integration of persons with disabilities in to the society.
According to the World Health Organization and the World Banks about 10 percent of the world population is living with disabilities and 80 percent of them are from developing countries making them the world largest minority. Another studies by the United Nations organization on disabilities shows that only 45 countries in the world are able to implement the antidiscrimination and other disabilities specific laws. Only few countries have adequate mechanisms in place to respond to the need of this people who often face stigma and discrimination.
In a typical city in the north, you hardly walk a kilometer without coming across these people with disability chanting their songs of begging, but mostly these people are found in car garages, mosques, churches and other public places and gatherings.
Stigma and discrimination is one of the terrible challenges faced by the people living with disabilities which no doubt limit the level of their interaction with even their relatives forcing them to live a bitter secluded live. It has been observed overtime that some of them laments on the decision of government to deny them from begging which Some of them feel, is an inhumane and lack of mercy.
On fifth February 2013, the disability bill was passed for the second reading in the senate, the bill seek to address the challenges faced by people living with disabilities including issues of poverty, unemployment, access to security and assistive devices, education to children and young people with disabilities, access to building and public services and transportation.
Nigeria is a country with about 20 million people living with different forms of disabilities, the welfare of this large section of the Nigerian society deserves attention. The Nigerian government expressed it desire to address the right of people living with disabilities by signing and ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities and its accompanying optional protocols in 2007 and 2010 respectively.
But regrettably there is nothing to write-home about if you take a look at the prevailing situation of the people living with various forms of disabilities in the country. The disability bill which is an improved version of a similar bill known as the Discrimination against disabled persons bill 2013 which was passed by the senate in 2010 but is yet to receive President Jonathan assent and the government is yet to give effect to the provision of this international instrument by failing to domesticate it through the national legislation as required. In addition, Nigeria is one of the counties which do not have a dedicated department committed to managing disability issues. The inability of the government to provide an enabling environment and a legal framework to safeguard the right of the people living with disabilities has reflected in the number of beggars we have today roaming our streets
Civil Society Organizations especially groups working on disability issues have a major role to play in addressing the plight of people living with disabilities. These groups should intensify their advocacy for enactment of and implementation of a legislation addressing the welfare of people living with disabilities. And government on it own side should look into the situation of these large number of the citizens who are very unfortunate to face this terrible situation of life.