By Oni Femi (INN), Ekiti
A lot has been said about active political participation for PWDs and the challenges involved. The bone of contention has been the extent to which Disability limits a PWD Political Candidate’s ability to satisfactorily execute the functions of his/her office. Can a PWD successfully navigate the political terrain? What special qualities do they bring to the table?
In this interview with INN correspondent ONI FEMI, PWD candidate, Bakinde Olaosebikan gives perspective on the knotty issues.
INN: Tell us about yourself
Bakinde: My name is Comrade Bakinde Olaosebikan from Araromi Obo Ekiti in Irepodun Ifelodun Local Government Area, Ekiti State.
I had my Primary Education at Community Primary School, Araromi Obo Ekiti. For Secondary Education, I schooled at Are/Afao Comprehensive High School, Are/Afao Ekiti. My Tertiary Education was at College of Education, Ikere Ekiti where I obtained my Nigerian Certificate of Education (NCE) in Agricultural Education.
I presently work as a farmer and politician. I’m also the vice chairman of Ward 7, Ado Ekiti under the All Progressives Congress (APC). I am incumbent Chairman, National Association of Persons with Physical Disabilities (NAPWPD) Ekiti State chapter”.
INN: As vice chairman of your ward, how do you manage to lead the people?
Bakinde: Being a Person with Disability does not bar me leading people because I have all it takes to be a leader. I possess leadership qualities such as tolerance, humility, others, etc.
INN: How long have you been in politics?
Bakinde: That’s about 29 years ago. I started as an electorate and became fully involved in 1999.
INN: As chairman of NAPWPD, how did you go about it?
Bakinde: There is an adage that says: “charity begins at home”. Originally, I didn’t start out with the intention of contesting as a chairman, however my people nominated me to contest and I won.
INN: What are your plans for your people as chairman?
Bakinde: By the grace of God, my plans are to bring all members together as one family, educate them on their health care, create jobs through vocational training, much like the one I did for some of them before I emerged as chairman. I will also work with Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the State. Very importantly, I intend to leave something useful that can be pointed at behind after my tenure.
INN: What have you done so far in your administration?
Bakinde: My administration started with zero and I have been trying to build strong financial capability by contacting well meaning people in society, both for financial help and to create job opportunities for my people to foster self reliance. Building relationship among aggrieved members is another area where I have been able to make impact and bring unity.
INN: As a politician, how will your people benefit from the administration of the incoming State Governor?
Bakinde: By the special grace of God, I believe that my people will benefit a lot from the incoming wdministration because it will be friendly to us.
INN: What is your advice to the incoming administration?
Bakinde: My advice to the incoming administration is that it plays a fatherly role in the lives of Persons with Disabilities in the State by creating employment, giving political appointments and awarding scholarships to the qualified PWDs. I also advise the incoming Governor to make our health a priority”
INN: What Challenges do PWDS face in the society ?
Bakinde: In our society today, PWDs face challenges like unemployment, mobilization and discrimination.
INN: How do you think an end can be put to these challenges?
Bakinde: Firstly, government and other private sector are urged to have the culture of employing Persons with Disabilities to reduce unemployment in our community. Secondly, transport workers should be considerate when we need their services. They should stop avoiding us. Thirdly, I will advise the incoming government to make discrimination law more effective in Ekiti State because people are taking the law for granted.
INN: What is your take on the situation we face in the country?
Bakinde: This is a very good question. I will like to address in a good manner. Today in Nigeria, whether as abled or People with Disability, we all know economic situations are not favorable at all. Insecurity is everywhere and it strongly affecting us as it hinders free movement of people and discourages employment.
INN: What are your expectations from the next president of Nigeria?
Bakinde: With the above aforementioned, my expectations from the next president is to tackle the issue of insecurity and make sure lives and properties of People with Disability are secured. On employment, the next president should work with the National Disability Commission to get accurate data of Pwds that are not engaged in public services and do the needful.
I am also expecting the next president to give attention to our health and create a conducive environment for the Pwds so that their daily activities will be easy.
INN: Can you please elaborate further?
Bakinde: Going further, the 5% employment opportunities as provided for PWDs in the Disability Law should be fully implemented for the qualified ones. Priority should also be given to us in terms of grants, loans and other financial assistance so that all Pwds who are willing to venture into different businesses and skill acquisition can easily establish themselves instead of becoming dependent.
Finally, the incoming President should give support to PWDs that have interest in farming. They should be fully assisted by providing loans/grants. Plots of land should be given them, along with improved seedlings and farm equipment. And where possible, the next president should assist us through mechanized system of farming.
INN: Thank you. What is your advice to PWDS in the State?
Bakinde: I advise those kept at home to gain their freedom and associate with us because there are benefits in meeting. We should let the world know that there is ability in our disability.