Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Friday signed two bills on the establishment of the Office of Disability Affairs 2010 and the provision of an Office of Public Private Partnership (PPP) 2011 into law, calling for a collaboration of everyone including the media in making the provisions of the new Disability Affairs law achievable.
Governor Fashola who spoke at Lagos House, Ikeja explained that what is needed is to ensure that through constant engagement with everyone, the provisions of the new law are imbibed by all segments of the society.
Governor Fashola said contrary to the media war orchestrated by some people that the State Government had not hastened to sign the law, the bill was just being signed because it just got to his table.
â€œThis is one of the best laws that we have. The beneficiaries should also understand our challenges. The solution to communication gaps is to seek information and not to run to the media. There should be restraints on all sides, constant engagement not aggravation. We do not have any problem with the idea behind the new lawâ€™â€™, he emphasised.
The Governor said in terms of attention that have been paid to physically challenged people in Nigeria, the new law will challenge architects, engineers and policy makers more than before on the need to realise that the practice of yesterday will have to give way to more contemporary practices where it is ensured that no member of the society is left behind.
Governor Fashola added that before the new law, the State Government had issued several Executive Orders to change some of the existing institutional beliefs such as his directives that ramps be provided in all public buildings to mitigate power challenges and allow the able and disabled to climb floors.
â€œYou will see an increasing number of walkways on roads we are building now. It is a deliberate policy to ensure that physically challenged people are separated from motorists when walking and also share the roads as shared assets. This law will compel us now to do a lot more to meet the challenge around us that nobody must be left behindâ€™â€™, the Governor said.
The Governor also appealed to health workers to continue to intensify efforts in the area of immunisation and vaccination to eradicate polio and measles which can lead to blindness.
â€œWe must reduce the number of people who are physically challenged and ensure that we promote the emergence of a human workforce that its capacity of physical limitation is reduced overtimeâ€™â€™, the Governor added.
He also commended the State Ministry of Health for intensifying the limb deformity corrective programme which is aimed at reducing disability in people through corrective surgery.
The Governor, who cited several infrastructural facilities provided by the Government to aid the people but which have not been put to use by them, stressed that the new law will need collaboration of everybody after a careful planning process to organise and integrate.
â€œFor example, with the issue of making a number of seats available for the disabled provided under the new law, we should realise that the seats will not appear automatically. The Ministry of Transport should work with our various franchise owners like BRT to get special buses with dedicated seats. We may also have to check our urban planning laws and also engage the Local Governments which manage the parks on the provisions of the new lawâ€™â€™, Governor Fashola added.
He explained that governments are now coming to the realisation that Private Public Partnership is becoming a best practice as the private sector is the engine of growth and driver of the economy.
He said funds that were hitherto locked up in banks and not acting in productive ways are being brought into the public sphere by encouraging private individuals and corporations who have capital to venture and partner with government to provide social service.
â€œThis is another means of funding budgetary commitment apart from direct allocation, borrowing, raising of taxes by Public Private Partnership (PPP), you can The Governor reiterated that Lagos State has demonstrated deep capacity for close PPP transactions over the last few years with its success in the Taxi model, the Waste management model, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) model, Power sector model and security model.
â€œThe bill will only give more teeth and direction to the operational capacity of the agency to bring on more versatility and institutionalise permanently this emerging global practice within our Stateâ€™â€™, he added.
Governor Fashola, who said the new PPP law is not the first to be enacted by the State, however said it repeals the former law on Private Sector Participation which has been amended severally and incorporated into the new law.
Speaking earlier while presenting the bill one of which he initiated as a private memberâ€™s bill during the Sixth Legislative Assembly, the Majority Leader, Hon Ajibayo Adeyeye, said the new law on establishment of disability affairs law will safeguard those living with disability and equalise them with others.
He said part of the benefits provided by the new law that all public offices and buildings would be made accessible to disable people, adding that this must be achieved within the next five years.
Hon Adeyeye added that the law also prescribes that anyone who employs over a 100 people must include at least one disabled person, adding that every public bus service must reserve one seat out of every 10 available for passengers for a person with disability.
He also informed that one space out of every car lot in every car park must be reserved for a disabled person, adding that penalties are also prescribed for offenders under the law.
He informed that the Public Private Partnership law would regulate and formulate policies for private people seeking to provide public infrastructure.
â€œIt also empowers the PPP to determine and charge tolls on such ventures. It will also ensure that users of such public infrastructures pay some form of usersâ€™ fees to allow the investors recoup their fundsâ€, Adeyeye added.
The Majority Leader explained that the law also prescribes penalties and punishments for organisations and individuals that seek to violate the provisions of the bill.
Prominent among those who witnessed the ceremony were the Deputy Governor, Hon (Mrs) Adejoke Orelope- Adefulire, Head of Service, Prince Adesegun Ogunlewe, the Body of Permanent Secretaries in the State Public Service and the Director General of the State PPP office, Mr Ayo Gbeleye.