World Disabilities Day: Rights group seeks Buhari’s assent to Electoral Act

A disabilities rights group, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, has called on the president, Major Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to assent to the Electoral Act 2021.

This was contained in a statement signed by the CCD’s Executive Director, David Anyaele, which noted that the bill removes barriers that limit persons with disabilities from participating in electoral processes.

The statement read in part, “We are marking this day at a time Nigerians are awaiting the assent of the President on a Bill for an Act To Repeal The Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 And Enact The Electoral Act 2021, To Regulate The Conduct Of Federal, State And Area Councils In The Federal Capital Territory Elections; And For Related Matters.

“The Bill provides for the removal of barriers that hinders citizens with disabilities from participating in the electoral process on an equal basis with others. We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign into an Act the Electoral Bill without further delay in order to open space for necessary actions towards 2023 General Elections.”

The CCD also called on state governments to adopt the Disability Rights Act, noting that only 13 states of the federation had demonstrated measures to adopt the act.

The group stated that a failure by state governments to adopt the Act was an endorsement of discrimination against persons with disabilities.

“We are worried that 36 months after the passage of the Disability Rights Act, only 13 State have demonstrated measures to adopt the Act. We commend States like Lagos, Anambra, Ekiti, Ondo, Plateau, Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, Kogi, Niger, Kwara, and Niger states. We call on the State governments yet to adopt the National Disability Rights Act to do so without further delay,” the statement added.

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“This is important because failure in this regard is an indirect endorsement of discrimination and other harmful practices against their citizens with disabilities. It is important for state governments to make inclusion and participation of citizens with disabilities in governance and development programmes a priority, as it is very expensive and difficult to live with a disability without government support.”

The group warned that Nigeria will not be able to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals target if policies meant to protect the rights of persons with disabilities are not protected.

“Acknowledging that Nigeria has signed the United Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities including its optional protocols, we state that SDGs will not be achieved if state and none state actors continue to discriminate, isolate and marginalize over 31 million Nigerians with disabilities in planning and implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria,” the group stated.