Bill to Increase Retirement Age of PWDs Passes Second Reading in House

Udora Orizu in Abuja 

The House of Representatives has passed through second reading a bill seeking to amend the Discrimination against Persons with Disability (Prohibition) Act, 2018 for upward review of retirement age of persons with disability.

The proposed legislation titled, “Discrimination Against Persons with Disability Prohibition (Amendment) Bill, 2022,” was sponsored by Chairman Committee on Defence, Hon. Babajimi Benson.

Leading the debate on its general principles, he said the bill seeks to amend the Principal Act which provides for measures to protect and ensure inclusion of PLWD in Nigeria. 

 He explained the amendment seeks to address some salient defects noticed in the Principal Act by amending Sections 30 and 32 of the Principal Act and rearranging Sections 30-58 as Sections 30-59. 

The amendment, he said would include an insertion of sub-section 30 (1) which provides for an increase in the retirement age and term of service from 65 to 70 years or 40 years of service, whichever comes first. 

Benson also said the second amendment sought to ensure that the Chairman of the National Commission for Persons Living with Disability is someone also living with disability and has requisite qualifications for that position. 

He said, “Dear Colleagues, the rationale behind this amendment is to further ensure that persons living with disability are fairly treated to ensure equity and justice. “Originally, employment rates of persons with disabilities are substantially lower than the rates for persons without disabilities in Nigeria. Persons with disabilities have lower earnings, and are sometimes low-skilled, part-time, and informal job settings with subminimum wages. 

“They also face social stigma and prejudice and obstacles to moving around their own communities and city spaces. This leads to poverty and dejection especially when they retire early. This amendment will give them more opportunities, not only to fully give their services to the country, but to also benefit more from the government and live a reasonable life after retirement. As a peoples’ parliament, the passage of this bill will further demonstrate our commitment to equity and fairness for all Nigerians.”

Contributing, Hon. TJ Yusuf while noting that he’s not against policies that would encourage people living with disabilities, said the House should be mindful so as not to create another challenge in the cause of curing one.

Reacting, the Speaker Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila told him that PWDs are a special class of people that shouldn’t be discriminated, hence why the Bill is important.

“Disability is not a profession, it’s a special class. And the constitution said they shouldn’t be discriminated this special class,” Gbajabiamila said 

The bill was thereafter voted on, passed and referred to the Committee on Disabilities.

Other bills which scaled the second reading included, “A Bill for an Act to Provide for Establishment of an Independent Office of the Auditor-General for Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory and Provide for the Audit of Area Councils Public Accounts; and for Related Matters (HB. 1782) by Hon. Wole Oke and a Bill for an Act to Establish Nigerian Association of Paralegals charged with the responsibility of determining the Standards of Knowledge and Skills required of Persons seeking to become Members of the Association; and for Related Matters.

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