Disabled bill scales second reading in Reps

OrderPaperToday – A bill that seeks to allocate 20% of available jobs in Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) for people living with disabilities has passed second reading in the House of Representatives.

The bill was sponsored by the leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos).

Leading the debate on the bill, Gbajabiamila explained that the bill seeks to ensure that the physically challenged receive what the constitution has already provided in spirit and letter. He noted that setting aside the aforementioned percentage for qualified candidates who are physically challenged is in line with the core functions of government, which is to provide “welfare and security of all its citizens.”

He said: “This bill seeks to do what we should have done since, setting aside jobs for those who, through no fault of theirs, are disabled.

“It is in line with the spirit of our constitution, it is important to understand the most important function of government is welfare and security of all Nigerians. These individuals must be qualified to get these jobs.

“If we include the statistics of all the disabled in the unemployed bracket, we are going to be surprised at the number of people that are unemployed. This is not a welfare state but no nation of earth is without welfarism.”

Supporting the motion, Ahmed Keita (APC, Katsina) noted that people living with disabilities have suffered neglect over the years. He went on to exemplify this by stating that if a better qualified handicapped candidate applies for a job, usually, the job will be given to a less-qualified person because they have no physical disability.

Also supporting the motion, Muhammed Monguno (APC, Borno) said that even though Nigeria is not a welfare state, the founding fathers envisioned an egalitarian Society, and the constitution forbids economic discrimination against any Nigerian.

However, Abubakar Amuda-Kannike (APC, Kwara) argued that there is no available data on the population of the disabled in the country. He went on to note that if 20% is allocated and there are no qualified disabled people, that would defeat the essence of the bill.

The position by Amuda-Kannike was corroborated by, Abdusammad Dasuki (APC, Sokoto) who asked for clarification on what a physical disability is, in the bill. He pointed out that a bow-legged person, according to the Nigerian Police Force recruitment criteria, is categorized as a handicap.

The bill was put to voted by the Speaker, and the “ayes” had it.

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