The population of Nigerians living with a disability is estimated to be around 19 million with 4.7 million having difficulties functioning according to The World Disability Report 2018. To cater and accommodate them, public and private institutions need to focus on creating a fair and inclusive future for persons with disabilities to excel.
Earlier in the year, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act into law, following 9 years of relentless advocacy by many human rights groups, institutions, and activists. The law prohibits discrimination of persons living with disability and imposes sanctions ( on defaulters. It also stipulates a five-year transitional period for modifying public buildings, structures, and automobiles to make them accessible to persons with disabilities.
The law also provides for the establishment of a National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, responsible for ensuring that persons with disabilities have access to basic amenities including housing, education, and healthcare. The Commission will be empowered to receive complaints of rights violations and support victims to seek legal redress amongst other duties. The enactment of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities Act is a first step in the fulfillment of Nigeria’s obligations under the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD). The government is not the only party addressing the plight of persons with disabilities in the country, some private organizations have also chipped in, constructing buildings accessible for people with disabilities and having a number of parking spots for disabled persons are great starts.
MTN Nigeria has been one of the private institutions actively engaging and supporting persons with disabilities, with over 20,000 persons receiving aid from the MTN Foundation Disability Support Project in the last five years. The company has also awarded 1300 undergraduate scholarships to students in public tertiary institutions under the MTNF Scholarship Scheme for Blind Students.
To commemorate the 2019 International Day of Persons with Disabilities, MTN Foundation partnered with the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development. The Foundation, donated relief and mobility items, including braille machines, crutches, hearing aids, elbow pads, etc. The company continues to make headway in showing support and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities, they also provide a blueprint for other institutions and collectively collaborate to create a conducive future for persons living with disabilities.