After years of advocacy and clamor for a law to protect the rights and interests of persons with disabilities in the area, the governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has signed the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities Prohibition Bill into law.
With the assent, Enugu becomes the third state after Anambra and Abia to have enacted the law in the Southeast region, which is meant to give PWDs a sense of belonging and protection against stigma, discrimination, and negative stereotypes, which have hitherto undermined their potentials.
The umbrella body for persons with disabilities, The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, (JONAPWD), had earlier this month, after the passage by the state assembly, appealed to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to sign the all-important bill into law, to make Enugu a disability friendly state, and facilitate its implementation.
“This is the much-anticipated gift by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi-led administration with a paradigm shift from charity to a rights-based approach on disability matters,” Onyebuchi Mba, Chairman, National Joint Association of Persons with Disabilities or JONAPWD, Enugu State chapter, said about the legal document, which he also described as “a morale booster to thousands of persons with disabilities across the 17 local government areas of the state.
Reacting to the governor’s assent last week Friday, Mba, in a statement, conveyed the gratitude of the disability community to the governor for finally laying the clamor and advocacy for the law to rest.
“You gave the executive backing that saw the introduction of Enugu State Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities Prohibition Bill into the Legislative Chamber in October 2022 and the subsequent considerations that cumulated in the passage of the Bill into Law by the State Assembly on the 4th of April, 2023.
“To further demonstrate your compassion and passion for this special community, you have in a few days ago given your assent to the Disability Rights Bill making it become an operational Law in the State Enugu.”
However, like Oliver Twist, JONAPWD Enugu he explained desired much more from the out-going governor.
“Now that your tenure is gradually drawing to an end, we beseech you for consistency towards the gazetting procedure of the signed Disability Law in order to formalize the establishment of Enugu State Disability Commission (ESDC) as provided by the Law for a smooth takeoff, and your good name shall be written in Gold as the new administration takes over office by the 29th of May, 2023. This is indeed a parting gift and an indelible legacy that posterity shall remember you in your goodness.”
The statement appreciates various organizations and individuals whose contributions eventually brought the law into existence in Enugu State.