Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu yesterday donated 50 wheelchairs, 170 walking sticks, 75 white sticks and 69 crutches to 364 people with disabilities to help people with disabilities (PWDs) with mobility.
The governor made the donation in Lagos when he and his wife, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, in the spirit of the Christmas season, had a special moment with you.
Sanwo-Olu responded to the questions previously raised by the PWDs, approving some of their demands and promising to implement others soon.
He reaffirmed the readiness of his government to empower the PWDs and to give them the feeling of belonging to the “Greater Lagos” project.
He informed his guests that their demands came at a better time than the state government was about to access the N500 million disability fund provided in the 2021 budget, approved by the House of Assembly on Monday.
According to him, the government will meet with each cluster of PWDs to see how funds can be maximized for the benefit of their members.
He said, “This Christmas season is a better time for us to host this special interactive session and to congratulate you. I purposely requested that the event be held at the State House, Marina, so in the spirit of the season I could share good moments with you. We asked for this commitment to hear from you about all of the challenges you face.
“After listening to your representatives, we now have a better understanding of what action to take and where to improve our relationship with you. We have taken up all of the points raised. The N 500 million disability fund in the 2021 budget will be accessed next year and we will agree with all the clusters on how to better use the funds. “
He added that the government will work to provide free, high quality care to the physically challenged in primary and secondary health facilities in the state.
He also gave the guideline for the free COVID-19 test for PWDs in registered clusters.
Sanwo-Olu also approved the establishment of the Senior Special Assistant’s Office for PWD Affairs, which will be the liaison between its administration and people with disabilities.
The governor said in January that he would occupy the office that will be located in the Ministry of Youth and Social Development.
The interactive session, jointly organized by the Ministry of Youth and Social Development, the Ministry of Information and Strategy and the Office for Disabilities, was attended by people from the Association for the Deaf, the Association for the Blind, the Association for Dwarfs and the Association for Albinism in Nigeria, Association for Spinal Cord Injuries in Nigeria (SCIAN), National Association for the Physically Disabled, Intellectual Cluster Groups consisting of Down Syndrome, Autism and Cerebral Palsy.
The occasion was the rendition of hymns by the Pacelli School choir for blind and visually impaired children.
Representatives from each cluster commented on challenges that limit their members to coping with everyday activities, including employment and inclusive education. The PWDs made suggestions on how the government could make life better for them.
Victor Oteri, deputy program director of the state traffic radio in Lagos, who represented a group of visually impaired people, welcomed Sanwo-Olu for making time for people with disabilities in the face of the challenges of the state.
He said the governor devoted time and resources to helping the most vulnerable people in society.
Oteri called for an increase in the employment rate for people with disabilities in the state’s public and corporate organizations from two to five percent.
He also called on the state government to equip the Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA) with full enforcement of the 2011 Special People Act, which required all public and private companies in Lagos to accept the physically disabled.
Doing so, Oteri said, would help reduce the poverty burden for people with disabilities and create economic opportunities to help them address their immediate needs and families.
Mr. Israel Akiode, who represented the dwarf cluster and also represented the PWDs in the Lagos chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), advocated the appointment of a high-level special assistant to the governor for PWDs to act as the liaison between the cluster and the governor.
Akiode also called for the number of physically handicapped public sector jobs to be increased to five percent.
The chairman of the Association for the Blind, Mr. Babatunde Mohammed, praised the state government for providing access to education for the cluster.
However, he said the current integrated education model has separated the visually impaired.
Mohammed urged the governor to allow the blind to enroll in inclusive education in an effort to stop segregation.
The female director of the Lagos State Association of the Deaf, Yemisi Alabi, drew the governor’s attention to discrimination against people with disabilities in the health sector, noting that the government-issued LASODA certificates were not recognized in general hospitals.
The situation, she said, is limiting access to health care for residents with disabilities.
In addition, Oyedele Wakil, who represented PWDs in Alimosho, said the local government’s territories were not respecting the Lagos Special Law of 2011 and called on the governor to assert himself against council presidents on the matter.
Olajumoke Otitoloju of the Iyaniwura Foundation for Children with Disabilities raised awareness of the lack of teachers and carers for children with intellectual disabilities.
She also called for government intervention in centers for children with intellectual disabilities. This would help identify the disabilities in children at an early stage.