The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq on Wednesday tasked the leadership of National Assembly (NASS) and other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to ensure that the rights and inclusion of deaf persons and other people living with disabilities in the society are given utmost priority.
Farouq who gave the charge in Abuja during a briefing to mark the International Week of the Deaf and International Day of Sign Languages assured that Federal Government has already put in place necessary plans to improve the well-being of the Deal and other people living with disabilities.
“Plans have already been set in motion. One is that the provision against discrimination of persons with disabilities was passed into law by this administration and we have now established the National Commission of Persons with Disabilities, a commission that is charged with the responsibility of addressing all the issues that hitherto affect the persons with disabilities.
“So it is important for them to know that the government is with them and cares about them. We now have a full-fledged ministry that is coordinating their activities and we would do everything possible to support that commission to be very, very active.”
While responding to question on the level of compliance with the policy on the provision of access to public buildings for people living with disabilities, Farouq said: “that policy is in place and in fact, it is in the Act that we must provide these facilities for these communities of persons living with disabilities. And we are going to see that that policy is being implemented.
She also expressed optimism that the National Assembly which plays a critical role in enacting the law, will henceforth “give them (people living with disabilities) all the support that they desire. We have just started and we are committed to seeing the full implementation of that law.”
The Minister maintained that the Ministry has been at the forefront of ensuring that the Nigeria Disability Commission was established to assuage the yearnings and aspirations of all persons with disabilities in Nigeria.
“This year’s theme is very apt and we join the Nigerian Association of Deaf and the World Federation to emphasis the rights and to say that Nigerian sign language is for everyone. Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development will continue to work with the Deaf and all persons with disabilities to ensure their rights and inclusion in the society are given priority.
“The purpose of the International Day of Sign Languages among others is to promote linguistic identity and culture of deaf people all over the world.
“Let me assure you that the Federal Government, through the Ministry, will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that all persons with disabilities in Nigeria are carried along in governance by removing all barriers which before now posed as a hindrance for the effective functioning of persons with disabilities.
Speaking earlier, the Secretary-General of the Nigeria National Association of the Deaf, Mr Chidi Topaz Oluije who quoted the World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, observed that deaf persons are estimated at 10 million in Nigeria.
“According to WHO, 10 million persons are Deaf in Nigeria. This shows that sign language is important for us to be able to mix with both the Deaf and the Hearing world and participate in politics, health or any sector in the country.”
Mr Oluije who spoke through an interpreter, Mrs Bukunmi Adejumo, lamented that anywhere we go they only pity us, they think that we need help, No, we don’t need help, we have the right to do everything we can contribute to the economic growth and show that we have skills.
“Without knowledge of sign communication, communication will be difficult for us. That is why we are standing here to celebrate the international day of sign language and international day for the deaf to make everyone know that deaf people have skills, deaf people can work, deaf people are graduates, they have certificates, they can contribute to national growth and development.
“Through sign language with the deaf, there will be collaboration there won’t be an exclusion. So that is why we have a one week programme every year to celebrate to bring to the awareness of people about deaf persons.”
While frowning at the neglect of the deaf citizens from accessing activities of the National Assembly, he noted that: “because there is no sign language interpreter in the National Assembly, we encourage them to have at least a sign language interpreter there that will be able to include and participate then listening to what they are discussing there and be able to pass the message across to the deaf community.”
The celebration stems from the United Nations Resolution A/RES/72/161 adopted in 2017 which recognizes September 23 as the International Day of Sign Languages. The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Reaffirming Deaf People’s Human Rights’.
The event will be marked from September 26-30, 2020 by all stakeholders in Kano.