By Angela Onwuzoo
The Joint National Association Of Persons With Disabilities, Lagos State Chapter, has accused the state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, of neglect.
The association also said the Sanwo-Olu-led administration had failed to pay attention to the welfare and issues affecting its members in the state.
The chairman of the association, Dr Adebukola Adebayo, who disclosed this on Thursday during a press briefing organised by the JONAPWD in collaboration with BONEWS service, said the current administration in the state had no policy direction for people with disabilities.
Adebayo said the governor had failed to constitute the governing board of the Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs since he assumed office in 2019, noting that Sanwo-Olu also refused to release the state disability trust fund to support persons with disabilities in the state.
Reading out the association’s charter of demands, he said, “There is a disability trust fund in the state. The last administration under former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode from 2016 to 2019 released N500m annually to support persons with disabilities.
“But in this Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration, none has been released. What we have is a piecemeal approach which is not sustainable.
“We are asking the government to go back to the disability trust fund and ensure prompt release of the fund.
“We have not seen any policy direction of this administration and much has not been done to implement the special people’s law in the state.”
The chairman said the Lagos State Government was handling the issue of persons with disabilities with levity.
Adebayo noted, “Since this administration came in, the LASODA governing board has not been constituted up to this point. If there is no relevance having a governing board, the law will not put it there. We are asking that the governing board of the disability office be set up immediately.
“We have reached out to the governor and we didn’t get any reply. It was the former governor, Babatunde Fashola, that made the law and set up the disability office.
“When Akinwunmi Ambode came in, one major thing he added to it was the disability fund and of course the setting up of the board of the disability office in accordance with the law.
“But since this administration came into being in 2019, the disability board has not been set up. We have tried several times to reach out to the governor but we don’t seem to be getting any positive response from him.”
Adebayo urged the state government to establish a disability desk in every ministry, department and agency across the state.
“Currently, it is not in existence and that is why a lot of ministries do not know what to do. And when they are planning their programmes, they do not know how to mainstream disabilities into it.
“At the local level, local government offices should be opened. We call it local government disability support and resource centres; so that people can go there and they can be documented by their various local governments.
“We are demanding that the government, whether the current government or the incoming one, should set up these disability offices at the local government level,” he added.
He also appealed to the state government to pay more attention to the 49 inclusive schools in the state and equip them with teachers and other learning aids that would help the children to learn.
“There is no point having 49 inclusive schools, and learning outcomes in those schools are nothing to write home about”, he noted.
When contacted, the General Manager of LASODA, Mr. Dare Dairo, said Sanwo-Olu had been very intentional in his response to issue of inclusion of persons with disabilities, adding that this had reflected in many of his schemes and programmes of the government.
Dairo said, “ And don’t forget that when you talk about inclusion, inclusion is not about LASODA alone. Part of our work is inclusive education. But there is no single school under LASODA. Everything education is under the purview of the Ministry of Education. There are plans to increase the number of inclusive schools in the state. Recently, the governor paid for over 3,000 persons with disabilities to be enrolled into the state health insurance scheme. “
He noted that the non-release of the N500m trust fund by Sanwo-Olu did not mean that things were not done for persons with disabilities in the state.