President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo goofed or told a bare-faced lie when they denied that the Disability Bill, otherwise called the “Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Bill, 2018", had been transmitted to the Executive arm of government from the Legislature.
During a Town-hall event on Wednesday, January 16, 2019, called “The Candidates”, Osinbajo and Buhari flatly told moderator Kadaria Ahmed that they had no knowledge of the status of the bill and that said bill had not been transmitted to the presidency for assent.
“There are about 25 million people with some form of disability in Nigeria and people are interested in knowing what this government is going to do about it”, Ahmed asked, before going on to inquire about the status of the disability bill “that was transmitted to you by the national assembly and which you haven’t signed".
After what seemed like an eternity, with Osinbajo reeling out the correct name of the bill to the president, Buhari said: “I think we sent to the national assembly”.
“They returned it to you”, said Ahmed.
“I am not aware of that”, Osinbajo shot back in his boss' defense.
“It’s been returned”, Ahmed doubled down.
Osinbajo was having none of it, however, and told Ahmed that there was a demonstration outside the national assembly a week prior, where members of the civil society demanded that the bill be transmitted to the presidency for assent.
The real status of the bill
Pulse can however report that the bill was transmitted to the Executive for President Buhari’s assent on December 18, 2018 and was dated December 14, 2018.
A legislative aide told Pulse that: "the bill is with the president, not the national assembly."
A copy of the cover letter of the bill as seen by Pulse was signed by Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr. Mohammed Ataba Sani-Omolori, and addressed to The President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The first paragraph of the letter read: “In consonance with the provision of the Acts Authentication Act Cap. A2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, I wish with due respect to forward to Your Excellency, the authenticated copies of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Bill 2018 for your consideration and assent”.
President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo were therefore not telling Nigerians the truth when they said the bill was still with the national assembly.
Or maybe the bill has been lost in the maze of the presidency bureaucracy, a development that should worry Osinbajo and Buhari and call for the rolling of heads.