Disability Not A Barrier (DINABI), a Disability Rights Campaign group has kicked off a project tagged “Advocacy for Inclusion”. The group flagged off the project with an advocacy visit to National Human Rights Commission, Ekiti State office, yesterday, 28th September, 2021.
The project which aimed to ensure inclusion had Persons with Disabilities from all spheres of the society in active participation. Calls were made on critical stakeholders and duty bearers to perform their duties inclusively towards the implementation of Disability Laws/Act in Nigeria.
Executive Director of DINABI, Mr Olajide Funso who was the head of the delegation explained that the purpose of the visit was to get acquainted with the commission and seek partnership in order to ensure inclusion, equity and justice for Persons with Disabilities.
Olajide, himself a Person with Disability lamented the level of exclusion and discrimination being faced by Persons Disabilities in Nigeria. He narrated various cases of abuse, exploitation, harassment and total exclusion millions of Persons with Disabilities get subjected to daily.
The Executive Director called on the commission to set up a Disability Desk with a specially assigned Officer experienced and knowledgeable on disability issues. Mr Olajide also urged the commission to ensure the protection of rights of persons with disabilities across the nation through prompt response to allegations of human rights violations, advocacy, education and intervention programs as enshrined in the commission’s mission statement.
A volunteer with DINABI, Mr Omotola Omotunla also called on the commission to ensure the deployment of sign language interpreters in all its office across Nigeria to ensure smooth communication. Furthermore, attention of the commission was drawn to incessant discrimination being faced by some PWDs in the hands of police and FRSC officials. These persons are being harassed by a prejudiced “not being legally allowed to drive” vviewpoint. He attributed this to lack of adequate knowledge on the part of the officers.
In his response, the Ekiti State Coordinator of NHRC, Mr Biodun Adigun who was represented by Mrs Adesina Ayomide welcomed the team from DINABI to the Commission while also appreciating them for the positive impacts they have been having on Persons with Disabilities in the State.
She expressed the commission’s readiness to collaborate with DINABI to ensure inclusion, equity and justice for all Persons with Disabilities. The State office of the commission also promised to make recommendation to the head office on the establishment of a Disability Desk Office in all State offices across the nation.
Other members of the commission, Mr Bayo Babalola, Com. Adeagbo Adesola, Mr Gbadeyan and Mrs Ogugua Mercy, in separate responses reiterated the commission’s readiness to continually protect the rights of all citizens, including PWDs.
The commission’s contact numbers for citizens, especially members of the Disability community to call in instances of rights violation was given.
In a related development, DINABI also paid an advocacy visit to the Ekiti State Office for Disability Affairs (EKSODA). There, Executive Secretary of the agency, Mrs Funmilayo Fatoba expressed delight at the prospects of collaborating with DINABI to ensure inclusion and service delivery to thousands of Persons with Disabilities in Ekiti State.
Earlier, DINABI’s Program Officers, Mrs Alonge Helen and Mr Oni Emmanuel called on the agency to ensure it engages the services of a Sign Language Interpreter.
They also urged a change of name from Ekiti State office for Disability Affairs to Ekiti State Agency for Persons with Disabilities as contained in the Ekiti State Disability Law 2020. Mrs Alonge expressed displeasure at healthcare services which are grossly inaccessible to PWDs in the State.
Another volunteer with DINABI, Miss Adeyemi Tosin called on the agency to join hands with other sister agencies to save the three Special schools in the State from total collapse. She expressed genuine worries at the dilapidated state of the schools. Tosin further used the opportunity to appreciate the State Government for establishing EKSODA, appointing an SSA on Disability Matters to the Governor and inaugurating Board members for the Agency as well as passage and signing of the Disability Law.
The JONAPWD chairman in Ekiti state, Mr Owolabi Kayode who was represented by the Assistant General Secretary, Mr Seidu Olasunkanmi also appreciated DINABI’s intervention programs in Ekiti. He encouraged the agency to ensure Persons with Disabilities enjoy dividends of democracy as their able-bodied counterparts.
Responding, Director of the agency, Mr Bayo Odewale and Deputy Director, Mr Toye Ojo appreciated DINABI for the timely visit. Odewale took time to highlight some achievements of the agency with promises to do more. He promised to work in synergy with DINABI to ensure inclusive education, accessible healthcare and justice for persons with disabilities.
Executive Secretary of the agency, Mrs Fatoba promised to work on change of agency’s name to tally with what is in the law by liaising with appropriate quarters on the subject matter.