Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Osun State have decried what they described as the exclusion of PWDs in governance in the state, asking that Governor Ademola Adeleke prioritize the inclusion of PWDs in governance, and improve the well-being of poor and vulnerable persons in the state.
In an interview with Kehinde Onitiju, the CEO of Onitiju Disability Foundation, and the immediate past chairman of the Osun State Chapter of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), he noted that the inclusion of PWDs in governance in Osun State is a non-existence.
Onitiju noted that there were some form of support for PWDs at the inception of the current administration in the state, but that has stopped, leaving PWDs to suffer.
He said, “immediately the Governor assumed office, PWDs received grants and were involved in skill acquisition programmes through the Osun State Social Community Development Agency, under the leadership of Mrs Funmi Abokede as the General Manager.”
The disability-rights advocate, however, noted that apart from the grant, which ranged from 2.5 million Naira to 5 million Naira to each disability cluster in the state, and the distribution of mobility aides to PWDs, there has been no support to PWDs, nor inclusion in governance.
He noted that PWDs are no longer interested in tokenism or charity from the government, but should be included in governance.
“It is expected that the Ministry of Sports and Special Needs will be inclusive of PWDs as active contributors, especially with the appointment of the Deputy Governor as the Commissioner.
“There is nothing for us without us. Issues affecting PWDs are wide, the government may have knowledge but they can’t know all the issues that affect us, that is why it is important that PWDs are involved in governance,” he added.
He also noted that it is imperative that the Governor, “Senator Ademola Adeleke incorporates PWDs into his cabinet like Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants etc.”
Onitiju also emphasised the need for the domestication of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act in the state, to ensure the rights of PWDs are adequately protected.
Corroborating him, Mrs Funmi Abdullahi, a woman with disability in Osun who decried the current status of PWDs in the state, said the incumbent administration has not shown commitment to improving the wellbeing of PWDs in the state.
Abdullahi disclosed that “over 60 PWDs that were employed by the past Governor toward the end of his administration have been sacked by the Governor, and no provision has been made to reinstate them.”
Abdullahi, who noted that the PWDs are qualified and fit for the positions, appealed to the state government to improve the lot of PWDs, and not to worsen it.
She said “times are hard, and it is extremely bad for PWDs. We’re appealing that the state government reinstates the teachers who were dismissed.
“Despite our disability, we’re capable and able to deliver. Instead of excluding us, the government should employ us, and improve our wellbeing,” she added.
She also noted that urgent attention needs to be paid to the plight of PWDs in the state, as many are on the verge of giving up.