A group of persons with disabilities (PWDs) under the aegis of Accelerate Disability Inclusion in Emergencies (ADIE) Forum has urged Senate President Godswill Akpabio to constitute a standing Senate Committee on Disability like it is in the House of Representatives.
They made the call at a meeting on the impacts of the 2024 budget and fuel subsidy removal on PWDs organised by the ADIE Forum and National Democratic Institute (NDI) on Thursday in Abuja.
“The House of Representatives has a standing committee on disability, it is important for the Senate to have a committee on disability too to cater for the interest of millions of PWDs in the country,” Mr Christian Agbo, co-chairperson, ADIE said.
Responding, the Chairman House of Representatives Committee Chairman on Disability, Dr Bashiru Dawodu, said the House of Representatives Committee on Disability would soon meet with Senate President Godswill Akpabio to lobby the upper legislative chamber to constitute a Senate Committee on Disability.
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He said that millions of PWDs deserve attention from the government and other citizens and that it was due to the importance of this that the House of Representatives constituted a committee on disability.
“What remains for us in the committee is to go and lobby the President of the Senate so that the Senate can have a committee on disability. What they have now is Special Duties committee and it is important to have a committee on disability due to its importance,” Dawodu said.
A joint statement of the meeting urged the federal government to reverse the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 7.5 per cent to 5 per cent by the end of 2023 and halt further increases in existing taxes, tariffs, and duties, as well as the introduction of new ones for the next one year to increase the purchasing power of Nigerians, especially PWDs.
The resolution was signed by Christian Agbo, Co-chairperson, ADIE and Executive Director, the Qualitative Magazine; Grace Jerry Co-chairperson, ADIE and Executive Director, Inclusive Friends Association (IFA); Jake Epelle Founder/Chief Executive Officer TAF Africa, and member, ADIE; Lois Auta Chief Executive Officer, Cedar Seed Foundation and member, ADIE; Betty Mube Women Leader, Joint National Association of Persons With Disabilities (JONAPWD), FCT Chapter and Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Head, Transparency International, Nigeria.
“We call on the committee of the federal government that is harmonizing taxes to make them less draining for citizens to quickly conclude their work and give way for implementation,” the forum said.
It commended Hon. Bashiru Dawodu, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Disability for his motion which the House passed, mandating the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation to provide a special status for PWDs in all of thier programmes.
“This includes the planned conditional cash transfer of N1trn to 15 million households. We are also happy that the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs has since responded by pledging that 10 per cent of the federal government’s humanitarian interventions will be reserved for PWDs. We await the urgent and full implementation of these commitments,” it said.
The forum also said that Christmas and New Year holidays look very bleak for many Nigerians, especially PWDs, thus the need for government at all levels to include specific safeguards for PWDs in emergency economic palliatives for the holiday season, and in the 2024 budgets.
“We call on the National Assembly to ensure the recommendations in our position paper are captured in the 2024 appropriation bill currently before them,” it added.