Fashola Inaugurates Governing Board For Office Of Disability Affairs
…Urges conscious design of social infrastructure for needs of the physically challenged
Jul 9, 2012 - Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Monday inaugurated the Governing Council of the Office of Disability, charging architects, town planners and building engineers to bear in their consciousness the special needs of the physically challenged in the construction of essential social infrastructure and conveniences.
The Governor who spoke at the Conference Room of the Lagos House, Ikeja when he inaugurated the seven man Board headed by Mrs June Tolulope Animashaun added that provisions of rest rooms featuring special designs for physically challenged people and other utilities in schools and hospitals will constitute safety measures that the State Safety Commission and other regulators must take into consideration going forward.
"There must be urinal conveniences dedicated for special people in our hotels, night clubs, schools and even as we make provision for parking there must be specialized and dedicated parking spaces for them and it is not just enough to now provide those parking, we must ensure that people reserve them and that if you violate them, we will punish you very severely".
The Governor explained that what the State has achieved through the legislation is to signpost the commitment as a government to embark on a very long journey, adding since the law has come to being and the subsequent set up of the agency, the agency will do nothing if it does not have directing, organizing and thinking minds which is what brought about the Governing Board.
"Today, we have taken the next big step by inaugurating the board to think for it but that law is perhaps a most significant milestone because it tells the story of which way we want to travel. It tells the story of our disposition to protect by legislation and by policy certain things that special needs had sought and society had overlooked".
"It has enacted by legislation certain rights and obligations on many of us to look deeper and carefully as we formulate and implement policies. You will see today that on Television, the State Television has recognized the rights of people with hearing disabilities and that is why the station transmits with simultaneous sign languages", he added.
The Governor expressed the belief that this practice will catch on leading to other states following up after which a more robust body of practice that pays attention to those who are physically challenged will be developed.
He informed that in the last few years in Lagos, the design of roads have changed in order to provide not only sidewalks but also sidewalks that are accessible by wheel chairs and for people living with disability so that they can commute also with minimal support and assistance.
He added that for those who are very observant, in all public buildings completed in the last few years, everyone of them now has a ramp so that physically challenged people will not go through the agony of climbing stairs or manouvre wheel chairs through steps, stressing that as much as possible Government will also install elevators and lifts in public buildings.
Governor Fashola asserted that though the Nigerian Constitution makes provision that prohibits discrimination but it does not provide in the way that the Special Peoples' Law has provided for what government can and should do to equalize opportunities for people who are willing but who are physically challenged and who if given a fair chance can compete and live a normal life as much as possible.
He recalled that the society has often responded to physically challenged people by thinking it was enough to give them alms and money and added that knowledge has however shown that that is really not what they need.
"What they really need is as level as possible a playing field in order to be able to carry on with their lives. Even looking at jurisdictions that have been much more successful at making this kind of provision, it was only until about 30 years ago was such a legislation enacted even in eth United States".
"It has been dealt with by conventions, practice and sympathy. So, our legislation is only about 30 years behind and it is perhaps one of the very first of such legislation in this part ".
The Governor opined that with the work of the board that is peopled and populated in the majority by people living with disability clearly cut out, as its Chief Executive Officer is not only a person living with disability but also a medical practitioner, it will become the state thinking mind to steer it to those things that are missed out because they know where it hurts most.
"These I think are the altruistic reasons behind the law so that you can awaken our own eyes to your own needs so that together we can respond to them in a much more salutary, much more comforting way so that you can continue to live as meaningful and possible a life that any normal person can in spite of your disability".
Earlier in her address, the Acting Head of Service, Mrs Oluseyi Williams said not too long ago, the State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) signed a law for special people to safeguard them against all forms of discriminations, equalize their opportunities and give them entrenchments so that they have no setbacks.
She added that in order to actualise the law, a committee was set up to examine it and come up with operational guideline, adding that drawing from its recommendations and drawing from section 2 sub section 1 and 2 of the law, the committee recommended that it is imperative that personalities with requisite experience should be brought in as board members for the board.
He said it was the recommendation of the board that brought about the process of seeking the approval of the Governor which he graciously granted for the constitution of the board of the Office of Disability whose members include, Mr Ajao Olabode Taliat, a deputy director in the Office of Youth, Sports and Social Development, Mrs Olayinka Olawatoyin, a deputy director in the Ministry of Education, Mr Bada Emmanuel Oladipo, a principal state counsel in the Ministry of Justice, Mr Victor Oteri, representing the Association of Disability People, Mr Olugbenga Kuye representing the Organised Private Sector and Dr Awelenje Babatunde Tijani, the Vice President of the Paralympics Committee of Nigeria who is the C.E.O of the Office for Disability Affairs.
Responding on behalf of the new appointees, the Chairman, Mrs June Tolulope Animashaun said stigmatization of people living with disabilities is totally unacceptable as it is also very possible for every able person to become a person living with disability through accidents.
He thanked the Governor for the opportunity given to each of the members to serve and promised that they will do their best to ensure that they did not disappoint him by being conscious of their obligations to the society.
The ceremony was attended by the Deputy Governor, Hon(Mrs) Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, some members of the State Executive Council including the Commissioner for Education, Mrs Olayinka Oladunjoye, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ade Ipaiye, Special Duties, Dr Wale Ahmed and Youth, Sports and Social Development, Mr Enitan Oshodi among others.