The community of Persons Living with Disabilities (PWD) in Lagos state has pleaded with the Lagos state Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo Olu to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA) to enable it drive both the disability-focused and the multi-sectoral interventions of disability inclusion and access in the state.
Making this plea in a press release signed by the state chairman of JONAPWD, Dr. Adebukola Adebayo and the State PRO, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, the group called for the empowerment of LASODA to help improve the welfare of People living with disability in the state.
The release is in commemoration of the 2019 International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD), themed ‘Promoting the Participation of Persons with Disabilities and their Leadership
Disclosing that the enactment of the Special People’s law has helped to improve inclusion and access of persons with disabilities in some critical sectors, Adebayo however pointed that despite the achievements, the attainment of a disability-inclusive Lagos State was still very farfetched as hundreds of children living with disabilities were still unable to go to school.
“The enactment of the Special People’s law has helped to improve inclusion and access of persons with disabilities in some critical sectors including education through the nearly 50 inclusive and special primary and secondary schools; public transport through the wheelchair accessible BRT buses and the free services they render to PWDs; employment in the civil service; empowerment of thousands of PWDs through the Disability Empowerment Fund; and the attainment of reasonable accommodation in public infrastructure like government office buildings, pedestrian bridges, road, sidewalks, etc.
“A reasonable level of awareness has also been achieved in the state through continuous public engagements at various levels.
“Despite these achievements, the attainment of a disability-inclusive Lagos State that we yearn for is still very far-fetched. As at today, Hundreds of thousands of children with disabilities in Lagos state are still unable to go to school because the Inclusive Education Policy of the state government, endorsed by the Ministry of Education in 2015 has been virtually abandoned and unimplemented. Inclusive public primary and secondary schools are not enough, not adequately staffed and poorly equipped, and lack capacity to practice real and proper inclusive education.
“All public hospitals are not accessible to PWDs especially our women with disabilities; hence, the high prevalence of maternal and infant mortality among women and children with disabilities. There are no sign language interpreters for deaf persons while many health facilities are located in buildings that are not physically accessible to the wheelchair users and the blind. Public hospitals lack social workers and care-givers that can give support to PWDs whenever they need health services,” the release read.
Listing the demands of the PWD community, the release further read:
“The over two million PWDs in Lagos State are requesting our dear Mr. Governor and his very dear wife to, as a matter of urgency institute and convene an Annual Lagos State Disability Summit with participation from public and private sectors to set a new Disability and Inclusive Development Agenda for Lagos State in Line with the Special People’s Law. This will help us to align with the targets and indicators of the SDGs and to define the leadership roles that PWDs must play to achieve this.
“ In general terms, there is need for the state government to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA) to drive both the disability-focused and the multi-sectoral interventions of disability inclusion and access in the state. In line with the UN Convention on Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to which Nigeria is a signatory, and in line with the recently enacted Nigeria Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities Prohibition Act of 2018, LASODA should be transformed into a full-fletched Disability Commission, managed by competent PWDs, and equipped with the requisite human, material and financial resources. This proposed Lagos State Disability Commission should be directly supervised by the Office of the Governor.
“Within the next 6 months, critical MDAs including Education, Health, Transport, Employment and Wealth Creation, Works and Infrastructure, Housing, Agric, Information, etc. should be mandated to review or develop their sector-specific policy frameworks to ensure that their services are inclusive and accessible for PWDs.
“Within 3 months, the public service office and the office of the Head of Service should be mandated to develop guidelines for inclusive and accessible workplace policy for the Lagos State public service to ensure optimum performance of disabled civil servants.”
“As it has been done in some other states like Plateau, Oyo, etc., we request our dear Mr. Governor to mandate all Local Government Areas (LGAs) and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) to appoint one competent PWD as a member of their respective Executive Councils. This will help PWDs to gain active participation in leadership at grassroot levels; and provide opportunity for them to participate in the leadership and democratic development process.