Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode yesterday launched a N500million Disability Trust Fund for physically-challenged persons in line with Section 12 of the Special People’s Law. He called on individuals, corporate organisations, non-governmental organisations, and other stakeholders to support the fund to reduce the challenges of such people.
Ambode, who spoke at an event held at the Lagos House, Ikeja, tagged “Ability in Disability,” said he chose to celebrate Democracy Day with them to fulfil his pledge to give every individual a voice in his administration.
The event, he said, afforded them opportunity to showcase their talents and enjoined Nigerians to encourage and show them love instead of pity.
He said: “Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let me use this opportunity to appeal to all Lagosians to embrace people living with disabilities. Do not discriminate against them. All they require is care, support and opportunity to live a fulfilled and productive life just like any of us.”
The governor called out four of them – Dr Waheed Oki, who runs one of the largest clinics in Badagry; Shade Sulaiman, a programmer with Lagos Television; Akin Akinloye, leader of Sugar Band and Leila Atake, a lawyer, to join him on the stage.
Ambode said: “These are people who are successful in their own right. Dr Oki for instance is from Lagos Island and I have known him now for over 42 years. We were in the same class in form one. I have lived all my life growing up with people with disabilities and that is why I am doing this for them. I just want to honor all of you for your chosen careers and for living it up and allowing your abilities to actually triumph over your disabilities.
“I am committed to doing this and I know that with the position that I have, I am your partner and all the ones that are out there also, Lagos State will partner with all of you and you will all live your lives to the fullest.”
He said the impression most people have about persons living with disabilities often result in discrimination against them, noting that it is high time Nigerians began to embrace them as part of the society.
The governor said: “They are faced with barriers to education and training which limit their job opportunities, leading in turn to poverty, social exclusion and restricted access the basic human rights which we all take for granted. This is unacceptable. People living with disabilities have a right to live a decent life and enjoy the benefits of good governance and as much as anyone else.
“Physical disability is not inability and should not be seen as an inhibition from achieving something positive in life. The theme of this event tells the story – “Ability in Disability”. People living with disability have special skills and talents which if properly harnessed will make a huge difference not only in their lives, but to the society.”
Highlights of the event include special performances by several groups from Pacelli School of the Blind, Kelly Blind, Sugar Band led by Akin Akinloye, veteran saxophonists, Kunle Ajayi and Yemi Sax, among others.