Senate President Godswill Akpabio has said the 10th National Assembly will give priority to bills and laws concerning Persons With Disabilities to ensure their inclusivity in the affairs of the country.
Akpabio stated this during his remark at the commemoration of the International Day for PWDs on Wednesday in Abuja.
The 2023 commemoration of the Day with the theme “Renewing Hope Together for Disability Inclusive Societies” was organised by the National Commission for Persons Living with Disabilities.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the programme was supported by The Leprosy Mission Nigeria, Sight Savers, Plan International, UN Nigeria, Disability Right Fund, Clinton Health Access Initiative, The World Bank, Inclusive Friends and UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
According to Akpabio, nations across the globe have made commendable efforts in fostering an environment that embraces diversity and inclusion of PWDs.
He explained that the day provides the invaluable opportunity to learn from these global best practices that will contribute to a more inclusive Nigeria.
He said, “In expressing our commitment, the Nigerian Senate stands firmly with the NCPWD. Our endorsement is a tangible pledge to actively engage in global dialogue on creating an inclusive society.
“Let’s embrace the opportunity to renew hope together. May Nigeria be recognised for its diversity and ability to ensure that every citizen regardless of ability status is valued and included.
“We know that laws are made, but we need to make laws to ensure that everybody’s interest is recognised and carried along.
“The 10th Assembly; both the Senate and House of Representatives are very open to expedite motions and bills concerning PWDs. This is something that we are passionate about.
“We expect to hear from you as quickly as possible. We would be in haste to make sure that those bills are given priority and considered in the 10th Assembly.”
Akpabio was represented at the event by the Senate Minority Whip, Sen. Osita Ngwu, representing Enugu West Senatorial District.
Similarly, the Chairman, Committee on Disability in the House of Representative, Dr Bashir Dawodu, corroborated the commitment made by Akpabio.
He added that the House would also look at the laws concerning disability with the aim of reviewing it to meet the current trend, especially as it concerns women and children.
Also speaking, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu said her Ministry has about 21 programmes and in each of them, ten per cent was allocated to PWDs.
“So, in simple terms, if the president said clearly that 50 million persons will be pulled out of poverty, ten per cent out of the 50 million will be PWDs.
“The budget for NCPWD is too low. We must put our money where our mouth is. So on behalf of the over 35 million PWDs in Nigeria, we are pleading with the uncommon leadership of the National Assembly to please improve on the budget for NCPWD,” Edu pleaded.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of NCPWD, Mr James Lalu, has appreciated the National Assembly for the support so far enjoyed and pleaded for more to deliver on the mandate of the commission.
Lalu also appreciated Edu, development partners and other relevant stakeholders for their roles in the remarkable achievement the Commission has recorded so far.
He said, “For the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, we thank you for making the Commission a priority, and giving us all the support we needed to excel”.
Other stakeholders like the Government of Osun, Sight Savers, British High Commission in Nigeria, and many others, expressed their commitment to continue to work with NCPWD.
In attendance to support NCPWD and the Humanitarian Affairs minister was the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, who was represented by the Director of Public Relations, Omolara Essan.