World News from Nigeria
"A society where everyone, regardless of background or disability, feels welcome, included and supported"
Man sues firm for permanent disability
(21.03.11) Mr Kalu Ezema, has instituted a suit against Seven Up Bottling Company Limited, before a Lagos High Court, alleging negligence on the part of the company, which had resulted into his permanent disability.
Ezema is claiming N250 million as damages from the defendants.
The claimant, in his statement of claim, said that he was a staff of Allan Quarter Ventures, a company responsible for making pallets and general carpentry for Seven Up Lorries and had worked for the company since February 2010, where he rose to the level of Supervisor in charge of all the work contracted to his company by the defendant.
According to him, on October 23, 2010, he was at the defendant’s office for official assignment, but that the Seven Up staff, who was to sign work for him was busy, so the assignment was reschedule for another day and as he was approaching the main gate to leave the premises with the said staff, who was to sign work for him, a lorry belonging to the defendant with registration number XQ 727 FST, and driven by one Mr. Jimoh, alias Alfa, was speeding towards the gate and lost control.
“The lorry eventually hit me, slammed my two legs and the legs were fractured with bruises, and it took efforts and with difficulty before my legs were pulled out from the truck with the assistance of people around.”
According to him, “since incident, the defendants abandoned me to my faith, and even ignored the letters written by my lawyer on the need for the company to take care of my medical expenses,” adding as a result of the incident, he could no longer take care of his six siblings, wife and four children.
FG Urged to Make Public Places Accessible to Persons With Disability
The Coalition for Change (C4C), a civil society group, has urged the federal government to make public places more accessible to Persons with Disability (PWD).
Hajiya Amina Salihu, the Programme Coordinator of the group, made the plea yesterday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
"Nigeria as a whole has not been fair to persons with disability, we need to realise that being physically challenged can be the lot of anybody.
"Persons with Disability are part of the society, they need to have a sense of belonging in the country," she said.
She said physically challenged persons must start enjoying their rights, noting that there was the need to create equal opportunities for all Nigerians irrespective of physical challenges.
"Without doubt, the challenges facing PWD are militating against their performance and productivity.
"Architectural barriers at bus stops make it inaccessible to PWD who cannot move a wheelchair into waiting buses or vehicles.
"Airports are equally inaccessible with all the barriers that one can think of. "Government needs to create an enabling environment that is conducive for them so as to enable them function properly in the society," she said.
She said most job opportunities were discriminatory against PWD, adding that this had not helped in improving the lots of such persons.
"Government could even make legislation whereby all vehicles imported into the country for the purpose of public transportation should have facilities to support PWD. "These problems call for campaigns to sensitise government and enlighten the populace to create conducive environment for social, economic and political integration of PWD," she said.
Salihu appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to sign into law the National Disability Bill which had been harmonised by all tiers of government.
Once the president assents to this bill, most of the challenges that PWD face would have been solved in ensuring that special persons in the society get a new lease of life," she said.(NAN)
When people with disabilities counted their blessings
(by Dare Adekanmbi, 18.10.10) A unique category of Oyo State citizens gave testimonies of their experiences under the administration of Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala in the last three and a half years, at a forum in Ibadan recently. It was all praise for the governor as persons with disabilities (PWDs) counted their blessings and named them one by one since Alao-Akala started steering the ship of the state.
The PWDs, who constitute about 10 per cent of the state’s approximately six million population, said the governor had improved their lot since his arrival. The representatives of the groups of the visually impaired, the hearing impaired and the physically handicapped, all commended Governor Alao-Akala and conveyed the gratitude of their members to him.
Miffed by the incidence of physically challenged beggars milling around bus stops to solicit alms, Governor Alao-Akala ordered that they be removed from the streets and rehabilitated towards making positive contributions to the state economically.
They were trained in various skills and empowered afterwards. One of them is Mr. Ayodele Dauda, a notorious beggar in Molete area of Ibadan metropolis.
In an opening remark, the head of the visually challenged, Miss Sarah Akinola said it was not only those the society considered as being “normal” that benefitted from Alao-Akala’s dividends of democracy and good governance.
According to her, “in the last three and a half years, the governor has made life easy for everybody, including us. By “us,” I mean those of us living with disabilities and who, in the past, were not thought important enough for provisions to be made for our needs.
“The very first thing he did that really impressed us was the appointment of Mr. Ayodele Adekanmbi, who is one of us, as a special adviser on disability matters. It was a step that was the very first of its kind in Nigeria. By doing this, he has made true the appellation of the state as a pace-setter.
“He has also been giving subventions to our association - the Joint National Association of Persons With Disabilities – as a whole, and each of the groups under it also, with annually upwardly reviewed grant.”
In the area of infrastructure development, she added that what Governor Alao-Akala had done was obvious. “Our roads are now better. Although I cannot see, the people who can have spoken glowingly about him in this regard. I remember the last time I went to Dugbe, the driver was really commending him for the Queen’s Cinema – Dugbe – Molete Road, which has greatly reduced traffic congestion in and around Dugbe,” she said.
Asked how the group fared in the past, Miss. Akinola replied that the association of PWDs was in the doldrums until Chief Alao-Akala breathed new life into it.
“Before him, there were no subventions, no office created for us. In fact, the state chapter of the Joint National Association of PWDs was as good as in coma. It has now been resuscitated. We held an election two years ago, after six years of such exercise. I cannot say that PWDs had a voice or a foot, not to talk of a standing in Oyo State before Alao-Akala,” she said.
She stated further that the governor had mainstreamed them into the society by employing some of them into the civil service and thus giving them a sense of belonging and treating them as useful human beings. The International Disability Day, according to her, had been celebrated in grand style in the state courtesy of Alao-Akala. During last year’s edition of the global event, there were lectures, parties and competitions, including a Jumat service as well as church thanksgiving service.
“The governor has also been interacting with us personally. He has been celebrating his birthday with us. By this, he has dispelled the wrong impression that if non-disabled mingle with us, they will become disabled,” said Miss. Akinola.
The state chairman of the physically challenged, Mr. Victor Fatunsi, described the achievements of the Alao-Akala-led government as unprecedented in the history of the state. He said two of their members have been going to Mecca and Jerusalem on holy pilgrimages each year since 2007, thanks to the large-heartedness of the governor.
The chairman, popularly known as Uncle Love, said apart from the empowerment of hundreds of PWDs with working tools after skill acquisition training, the governor had never closed his door against them, as members still throng the Agodi office to receive scholarships, loans, mobility aids and other facilities.
“You can’t compare Alao-Akala’s government with what Idera de (his predecessor’s son’s NGO) did. Idera de was just a mess up to our people. We were taken to Ido and Adamasingba and we know what happened thereafter. It was a ruse of empowerment of PWDs,” he recalled.
Fatunsi thanked the governor for ensuring that some PWDs got elective political positions as councillors in Oyo, Saki and Ogbomoso, adding that many of their members would soon pay a solidarity visit on the governor to express appreciation and ask for more.
“Our voices were part of those to which the governor listened to declare his second term ambition. We want him to come back. He has promised to encourage more of us in political offices. Presently, we have six councillorship slots, we want him to ensure a slot is reserved for us in every local government area.
“Two of our members have joined the state House of Assembly race. We will intimate him with details of this when we go visiting. All these and more he could do for us when he comes back in 2011. He will return because he will win massively in next year’s election to become the first two-term civilian governor and jinx-breaker,” said he.
He, however, urged Governor Alao-Akala to create a Disability Welfare Board that will be directly under the special adviser on disability matters and the office of the adviser to be more empowered with more funds to accelerate the execution of plans for the PWDs.
The governor also fenced the Ogbomosho Blind Centre, covering 10 hectares of land to ward off intruders. The centre, according to Mr. Ayodele Adekanmbi, had been abandoned since 1958, until Alao-Akala’s administration constructed hostel buildings, sank a borehole, and provided a bus as well as computers with special printers and software that make them PWDs-friendly.
According to the representatives of the deaf, Messrs. Akibu Alade Soyin and Moruf Yusuf, Governor Alao-Akala had employed more than forty uneducated deafs as street cleaners. They, however, asked for more employment opportunities.
Some of the hundreds of beneficiaries of the governor’s Disability Economic Empowerment Project (DEEP) across the 33 local government areas in the state include: Mrs. Tunrayo Ayobami, a mother of triplets from Ibadan North Local Government who was empowered with a rented shop equipped with a deep freezer, a generator, and provisions; Mr. Okiki Iyiola, Ibarapa East Local Government, who got a fully equipped computer centre; Mr. Ismaila Mukaila from Oyo West Local Government, who was given equipment for making iron pots.
Others are: Mr. Tajudeen Temidayo from Oyo East Local Government, who now runs a furnished electronic shop; Mr. Olanrewaju Alabi, a graduate of the Ladoke Akintola University (LAUTECH), Ogbomosho; Messrs. Oladipupo David and Adewale Saheed who are now in the shoe-making business; Mr. Ayodele Dauda, Mr. Afeez Moshood and Mr. Sulaiman Ganiyu, among many more others.
Miss. Akinola who is a federal civil servant, summed up her characterisation of Alao-Akala’s dividends of governance to the PWDs as follows: “He has laid a foundation that when any other government comes in 2015, it is not going to be easy for it to waive aside our welfare. He has built a foundation that can’t be demolished or destroyed. Even if you put out all the fire, a few embers will still be there to burn and bring up a new breath. This is what Alao-Akala has done.”
Group Slams UN Member States On Disability Convention
(06.09.10) The Human Rights Watch has strongly criticised UN member states for poor implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
The UN correspondent of newsmen reports that a three-day meeting of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities began on Wednesday in New York.
The human rights group noted that the concerned governments had not done much to focus on effective strategies and good practices that benefited persons with disabilities two years after the convention came into force.
“If governments are serious about their commitment to people with disabilities, they need to turn the laws and policies on paper into meaningful programmes and services on the ground,” said Shantha Rau Barriga, researcher and advocate on disability rights at Human Rights Watch.
“Efforts will fall short unless governments include people with disabilities in planning for these programmes and monitoring them,” he added.
The issues on the agenda of the meeting, which takes place from September 1 to September 3, include the right to education and the right to live in the community.
Both require comprehensive national plans and monitoring mechanisms to ensure that these rights are realised, the global NGO said.
In his address at the opening, UN Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang urged member states to become parties to the convention, which aims to protect the rights of the estimated 650 million people with disabilities.
He said the convention had recorded 146 signatories and 90 ratifications
Nigeria: Celebrating Week of the DisabledFunmi Falobi and Abosede Akanbi, 24 August 2009
Lagos - One of the groups in the society that is usually not remembered is the physically-challenged people. They rarely make news on the pages of newspapers, magazine, television and radio except when they are viewed as constituting social nuisance and are picked up by government agency.
People with disabilities abound everywhere. They live in the developed as well as developing nations. Some people are made disable through natural occurrence while accidental occurrences like road accidents, fire among others render them disability. This group of people suffers neglect and faces lots of challenges, which include physically, financially, emotionally and opportunity wise. While the developed nations have tried to make policies to ease the challenges faced by the disabled persons, developing nations in which Nigeria is one still struggle to integrate this group in her policies.
In other to bring the plight of disable persons to the purview of the society a disability week was put together to examine the various ways the global economic recession has affected the group whose daily population is increasing geometrically. Currently, the National Population Census (NPC) put their population at over 19 million.
While marking this year's disability week in Lagos with the theme; 'Emerging Global Trends In The Rehabilitation Of The People With Disabilities' the physically challenged under the aegis of National Handicap Carers Association of Nigeria (NAHCAN) called on the Nigerian government at various levels to implement programmes that would enhance the living condition of People With Disability (PWD).
They also demanded that each state in the federation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja should construct 100,000 units of room and parlour and donate them free of charge to the disabled and the poor to solve their accommodation and shelter problem.
NAHCAN is a multi-disability, cross-cultural, multi-religious and dynamic disability organisation established to fight for improvement in living conditions of people with disabilities in Nigeria and to ensure they occupy their rightful place in the society. The event attracts dignitaries across the country both from government circle and business world. Audience was also entertained with good music by members of the Teslim Band, who are also physically challenged. Speaking at the event, Nigeria's First Lady, Hajia Turai Yar'Adua called on public office holders and the society at large to help persons with disabilities so that they would achieve their dreams in life. She said government alone could not shoulder the responsibilities of people with disabilities but with the assistance of other organisations in the country, life would become conducive for the group.
"The Federal Government is aware of the enormous challenges faced by persons with disabilities in this country. Consequently, government is doing all within its resources to empower persons with disabilities to become productive and self-fulfilled citizens of our dear nation. As you all know, government alone cannot shoulder the responsibilities of persons with disabilities. It is my sincere hope that programmes such as this will be organized frequently to arouse public awareness on the plight of persons with disabilities," she said.
Yar'Adua, who was represented by Minister for Women Affairs, Hajia Salamatu Suleiman explained that her pet project, 'Women and Youth Empowerment (WAYEP)' foundation is focused on helping persons with disabilities and other disadvantaged members of the society.
Director, Rehabilitation Service, Ministry of Social Development, Culture and Tourism in Kwara State, Mr. Olanrewaju Ajani opined that government has lots of programmes for the disabled in the state. He explained that since April 2009 Kwara government has been evacuating destitutes from Lagos to Kwara State with a view of resettling them.
"The state government also evaluates those in Ilorin and provided them medical treatment as it partners with the psychiatric home. We also link them with their local government areas and follow them up with their family and relations and empower them, give them money to establish their workshops so that they don't go back to the street," he said.
NAHCAN President, Adewale Adeyanju said in order to cushion the global economic crunch, government in developed countries have re-strategised and improvised relief packages for the physically challenged people but in Nigeria "we are yet to enjoy such policies and special progrrammes. Let me use this medium to reiterate that the president's seven point agenda, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and vision 2020 are all a mirage without a sound rehabilitation system put in place to revamp the ailing strata in all our national endeavours including rehabilitation of the people with disabilities."
According to him, Nigeria is signatory to many international treaties and conventions designed by the United Nations to uplift and improved the living standard of the vulnerable, the poor and people with disabilities, but lack of political will to implement the contents of the treaties and international convention instruments have been the cog in the wheel of our progress in this country.
"It is in this respect we are canvassing for motivation, regular interaction with functionaries and the society as a veritable strategies to boost special persons development and ensure we occupy our rightful place in the society.
"We are sensitising the public that positive attitudinal change toward our plight will move us forward in this country- It is one thing to enact a bill that will make life bearable for us, it is another thing to have a society with good attitude, love and acceptance of the people with disabilities," he said.
Adeyanju canvassed for the establishment of Person with Disabilities Trust Funds where a certain amount be put to see to the well-being of disable persons, saying that most of the microfinance banks are not targeted at helping the disabled.
"Now is the time to have Disability MicroFinance Banks and Disability Bank if we are serious to move forward. Every determined disabled business men/women should be helped with Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) funds to engage in business and wealth creation to ensure they are self-reliant economically. We shall be able to contribute immensely towards economic emancipation of Nigeria instead of being consumers," he said.
NAHCAN Treasurer, Titilayo Awoniyi, a law graduate while admitting that living with disability is very challenging, she opined that many facilities that would aid them to live a good life are not available.
She called on government to always remember the disabled in their policies and implement strategies that would improve their living condition because "disability can happen to anybody."
She enjoined the disabled not to be discouraged saying, "disability is a thing of the mind. If you are disabled in your mind, you are disabled in every aspect of life. If you allow what people say to get at you, you will blame people, environment for your predicament and you will not move on in life. Be strong, don't give up and love one another."
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as well as Ageing, Disability and Home Care, Department of Human Services NSW.
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