The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) Lagos State Chapter has called on Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State to immediately put on course, a process to make Disability Community in Lagos State sustainable by constituting an appointment of a Board of Governors from the various Clusters of disability to provide oversight function and checkmate excesses of Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA) an agency responsible for disability affairs in Lagos State.
This call was made by JONAPWD Chairman Lagos State Chapter – Dr. Adebukola Adebayo at a press conference held on Thursday 27 April, 2023 at International Press Centre (IPC), Ogba, Lagos.
Speaking on behalf of the group, the Chairman said Lagosians with Disabilities are concerned about sustainability or otherwise of disability community in Lagos State and want the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to constitute the LASODA Governing Board with all disability clusters represented in order to give direction and inclusiveness in the management of the Agency and avoid the mismanagement of funds which have further led to the impoverishment of PWDs in the state.
He listed other demands which the group wants with condition that if after 14 days of the publication and nothing is done, the group will have no choice other than to embark on a peaceful protest to drive home their demands.
Speaking at the press conference, the JONAPWD Lagos State Chapter, Chairman, Dr. Adebukola Adebayo alleged that “Despite the Governor launching of Disability Entrepreneurship Empowerment Programme (DEEP) grants to empowered beneficiaries from disability clusters held on 3 December, 2023 at LTV Blueroof Ikeja with over N500 million allocated for this exercise, many beneficiaries are yet to be paid the grants which is N100,000 and N50,000 for Elderly. Majority are suffering in silence and the poverty index in disability community is ever increasing daily”.
He urged Governor Sanwo-Olu to immediate disburse unpaid N100,000 and N50,000 empowerment and social security support fund respectively to all beneficiaries.
According to him, “The Governor should help put an end to favouritism and nepotism that has become an endemic problem in the agency. It is time the agency is audited so as to expose the fraud and corruption in the execution of projects and non-compliance with the Lagos State Procurement law by staffers and managers of the agency.
“We will appreciate the creation of disability desks manned by qualified professionals in critical MDAs and to facilitate functional and institutional interaction between LASODA and the various MDAs. Bulks of requests and letters sent to MDAs by PWDs are often resent back to the agency the results is lack of response to many of our people’s requests on welfare and other issues.
“It is noteworthy to let you know that annually, LASODA received N500m as budget allocation from Lagos state government but the shoddy way the funds is being used for while majority of our people suffered in silence is unacceptable” he lamented.
Speaking further, Dr. Adebayo alleged that “The Lagos State Special People’s Law established the Disability Fund for the purpose of advancing the causes of PWDs in the state, and since 2016, it has been receiving 500 Million Naira annually. However, the lack of transparency in the process of administering the 500 Million Naira disability fund has further worsened poverty and exclusion in the community.”
Speaking on condition of living of the various Clusters of disabilities in the Lagos disability community, some of the head of clusters alleged insensitivity to the plights of PWDs in Lagos State by LASODA Board.
Mr. Lukman Abolarinwa Salami head of the Association of the blind, Lagos state and President of the Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disability (AIDDN), Mrs. Jokotola Omotola painted vivid picture of wants and suffering in the community stating that more needed to be done to improve the living conditions of PWDs in the State.
Messrs Babatunde Mohammed the Sports Officer and Adewale Adeyanju the Public Relations Officer of JONAPWD Lagos State disclosed that some States treat PWDs better and far than what is obtained in Lagos State Chapter of the Association citing non-availability of office space, lack of vehicle to move around and perform their expected duties including seeing to the welfare of PWDs in the State some of whom are under distress, sick and in need of medical and healthcare while suffering in silence.
The duo called on LASODA to enable level playing field to network with the agency in order to solve the multifarious problems militating against the growth of disability community in Lagos State stating that “with the current situation obtained in the Lagos State disability community, it is lie to say we are in excellent condition and therefore Lagos State the much touted “Centre of Excellence” should do more to improve living conditions of PWDs in the State” they said.