Ms Irene Patrick-Ogbogu, Executive Director, Disability Right Advocacy Centre (DRAC), has attributed major challenges facing persons with disabilities to delay in passage of disability bill by the National Assembly.
She said this on Monday in Abuja during an interview with the New Agency of Nigeria (NAN). The challenges which range from discrimination, exploitation, accessibility into public places, schools, and leisure centres ar tied to the lack of punishment for the perpetrators.
The Disability Bill is expected to cater to all these as it covers all these acts and their concurrent penalties.
The executive director urged the National Assembly to fast-track the harmonisation of the Bill and pass it into law.
According to her, quick passage of the bill, and its assent and implementation by President Buhari would go a long way in addressing numerous challenges encountered by this marginalised segment of the society.
She further identified passage of the bill as the best and first approach to make persons with disabilities have a sense of belonging, feel included in developmental processes as well as have equal access to public places.
Patrick-Ogbogu decried the public perception toward persons with disabilities in the area of relaxation centres.
According to her, this group of persons have right to leisure and fun but pathetic that none of those centres or facilities are disability friendly.
“Challenges facing persons with disabilities ranges from negative attitude by members of the public toward persons with disabilities, stereotyping, people have low expectations for persons with disabilities and exploit them.
“If you cannot access a place you cannot participate, so if the Ministry of Health is promoting new things to enable people to access healthcare and yet the hospitals are not accessible, how do persons with disabilities access such facilities?
“When schools are not accessible, how can children with disabilities access education? So therefore access to building, environment, among other public facilities, are very important issues as far as disability is concern.
“Even socialisation process, people tend to look at access in terms of schools, education among others, but even leisure life, relaxations are also of paramount interest to us. How many of our relaxation centres are really accessible to persons with disabilities.
“Or do people think persons with disabilities do not want to have social life, do not want to party or club? Of course, they do but these places are not accessible which is part of our plight,’’ she decried.