In the bustling heart of Nigeria, Kwara State has become a beacon of hope and inclusivity. Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq recently made history by appointing two physically challenged individuals as Permanent Secretaries simultaneously, marking a first in the state’s history.
It brings to three, the number of such appointments in his government, having made a similar one in his first tenure.
This unprecedented move has stirred the hearts of Nigerians across the nation, reinforcing the popular adage, ‘There’s ability in disability.’
Peter Ayanwale, a blind man who formerly served as vice principal at the Kwara State School for Special Needs, was one of the newly sworn-in secretaries. His remarkable journey to the pinnacle of his career has been nothing short of inspiring.
“Until a few days ago, when our names were announced, I had no idea. When my friend called me to congratulate me, I asked, ‘Are you joking? Are you dreaming?’,” Ayanwale shared, recalling the surprise of his appointment, while his wife, Motunrayo, expressed gratitude for the Governor’s decision.
“Many people are struggling to attain the position of Permanent Secretary but are unable to do so. Therefore, it is a wonderful thing that our Governor, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, did for us in Kwara State, especially for my family,” she said.
Abdullahi Kayode, another appointee who uses a wheelchair, was less surprised by his appointment.
Kayode, now Permanent Secretary in the Kwara State Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, expressed his belief in the Governor’s commitment to inclusivity.
“The Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has made significant improvements to the school for special needs and has consistently shown kindness and generosity towards people with disabilities. His love and support for us make it unsurprising that he would appoint PWDs as permanent secretaries. He leads an all-inclusive government where your physical abilities do not matter,” stated Kayode.
In response to these appointments, Governor AbdulRazaq has urged his new appointees to use their positions to improve the lives of the people.
“As cabinet members and senior bureaucrats, your role is to work together with the government to enhance the quality of life for the people through the design and implementation of various policies and programs, as well as by setting an example through your conduct in public leadership,” the governor said.
These landmark appointments are not the first time Governor AbdulRazaq has demonstrated his commitment to inclusivity.
During his first term, he enacted legislation requiring a minimum of 35% representation for women in elective and appointed offices in the state. This initiative earned him national and global recognition.
Reactions to the Governor’s recent actions have been overwhelmingly positive. Senator representing Anambra Central District, Chief Victor Umeh, commended the Governor for his inclusive action.
“Their disabilities do not hinder their productivity; they work alongside their able-bodied counterparts, promoting a sense of inclusion. This is the kind of inclusive action that our governments should take,” Umeh stated.
Likewise, CAN President, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, expressed his support for the disability community.
He disclosed that CAN was already working on accessibility for the disabled,” Okoh stated.
The Muslim community has also reacted positively. Muslim cleric, Imam Farouk Adebayo, praised the governor’s action, saying, “It’s a testament to Governor AbdulRazaq’s extraordinary vision that he has recognized the potential in these remarkable individuals.
“He’s shown us all that physical limitations can be surmounted, and that real ability lies in the strength of one’s character, intellect, and dedication.”
Also adding his voice was Sheikh Usman Ibrahim, who said, “This appointment is a milestone. It signals to us that in the eyes of this administration, everyone has worth and everyone can contribute. I pray other states take note and make similar strides.”
For these two newly-appointed secretaries, their journey has been anything but ordinary. Ayanwale, who is visually impaired, is usually driven to his new office by his son, Emmanuel.
Meanwhile, Kayode, who navigates with a wheelchair, recently noticed the construction of a ramp at his office, improving accessibility for him.
Both have pledged to use their positions to champion the cause of people living with disabilities.
“I cannot leave people living with disabilities alone, regardless of their category – whether they are blind, deaf, dumb, or have limb deformities. I am here to represent them and work for them,” Ayanwale said.
“The governor has already demonstrated his support, and I appeal to him to continue showing kindness, love, and care for us, especially in the area of employment,” Kayode added.
Their appointments serve as a testament to the Governor’s commitment to inclusivity and equality, setting an example for other states in Nigeria to emulate. With these appointments, Kwara State has demonstrated that disability is not an inability, and that every citizen, regardless of their physical condition, has the potential to contribute meaningfully to the nation’s progress.
The story of Peter Anyanwale and Abdullahi Kayode is a powerful reminder that disability is not a barrier to greatness. It is a message of hope, resilience, and the endless possibilities that lie within each of us.
These two individuals, once seen as disadvantaged, are now at the helm of decision-making, influencing policies, and shaping the future of Kwara State.
Indeed, Governor AbdulRazaq’s action has not just changed the lives of these two individuals; it has changed the narrative for all persons living with disabilities in Kwara State, and potentially, across Nigeria. It is a bold statement that everyone, irrespective of their physical condition, should be given an equal opportunity to serve their country.
As Nigerians celebrate this milestone in Kwara State, the people also look forward to seeing more of such inclusive actions in other parts of Nigeria.
In the words of Peter Anyanwale, “There is ability in disability,” and Kwara State is leading the way in showing how true this can be.