The Voice of Disability Initiative, a group that advocates for disability rights and is headquartered in Abuja, recently visited the Nasarawa State Disability Commission. During the visit, Mr. Okoroafor Alexander Uchechukwu spoke to the Executive Secretary and members of the Disability Commission about the purpose of their visit, which was to gain the Commission’s support for ensuring that the provisions of the Nasarawa State Disability Law are effectively implemented.


Barr Mary Musa, a member of the VDI Team, discussed the Nasarawa State disability law’s execution. She stated that the law provides a 5-year transition phase for ministries, departments, agencies, and public institutions to meet the law’s requirements, including ensuring building accessibility and allocating 5% of employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities. Additionally, she emphasized the Commission’s responsibility to ensure that women and girls with disabilities have access to healthcare.


Barr Mary shared two anecdotes of women and girls with disabilities who lost their babies due to inaccessible healthcare facilities and communication barriers during natal care. She also emphasized the necessity of providing accessible transportation and quality education to individuals with disabilities, enabling them to live normal lives and participate fully in society.


These objectives align with the Commission’s establishment, according to Barr Mary. She added that failure to comply with the regulations within five years permits individuals with disabilities to pursue legal action against non-compliant organizations or individuals. The Commission is aware of the penalty, which is one million nairas for organizations and 100 thousand nairas for individuals, respectively.


During the discussion, Mrs. Asaba Averson, a member of the VDI Team, expressed dissatisfaction with the Commission’s slow progress. She highlighted that the Commission does not have any accessible buildings since its establishment, and the appointment of Directors to head the departments has been sluggish.


The Executive Secretary welcomed the Team and expressed the Commission’s readiness to collaborate with them. In response to the concerns raised, the ES explained that the Nasarawa State disability law was institutionalized in 2020, and the Commission commenced full operations in 2021 with five departments: Finance, Planning, Administrative, Compliance, and Social Services. Regarding the appointment of Directors, the ES clarified that the Commission does not have the authority to make such decisions. Instead, the Ministry of Finance, which oversees the Commission, has the power to appoint Directors.


The ES mentioned that the Commission had contacted the Ministry for the appointment of Directors, but they had not received a response. In regards to the inaccessibility of the Commission, he said that a contract had been awarded, and the contractors would soon begin restructuring the building to make it accessible.


Mr. Okoroafor commended the Commission’s efforts but emphasized the need for more pressure on the Ministry to attend to the Commission’s requests for Director appointments. He also stressed that if they remain silent, the Ministry may not act quickly in their favor. To illustrate the need for advocacy, he shared the story of an 89-year-old blind woman who was repeatedly raped by a politician seeking fortification. The attacker not only raped the woman but also inserted dangerous objects into her private parts in an attempt to kill her. Thankfully, he was arrested, and justice was served.


Mr. Okoroafor also brought up the case of a 15-year-old deaf girl who was gang-raped in Obi Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. He acknowledged VDI’s efforts in addressing the case and emphasized the need to follow up and ensure that justice is served. The Executive Secretary praised VDI’s work in promoting and advocating for the rights of Persons with Disabilities in Nasarawa State.

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