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2022 D-30 Disability Impact List: Being Part Of DRF/DRAF Revolution Of Disability Rights Movement Earned Me The Award—Odaudu

Theophilus Michael Odaudu, a Diversity and inclusion specialist; human rights advocate; Program Officer at Disability Rights Fund (DRF) was among The 2022 D-30 Disability Impact List. Theophilus is also a lawyer with disability of blind cluster.

D-30 Disability Impact List is in its third year and it honors unique accomplishments of our most impactful disability community members globally through a nomination and selection process. After receiving almost 250 nominations for more than 125 incredible leaders with disabilities globally, D-30 Disability Impact List of 2022 were selected to be a catalyst for continuing to advance disability inclusion, leadership, and representation at all levels.

The Qualitative Magazine (TQM) encountered Theophilus Odaudu in a celebration mood and he shared with us how he felt about the Award and how his contribution through DRF was responsible for the award.

TQM: Recently, you your name was found among D-30 Disability Impact List—Diversability,  please can you tell me about it?

Thank you for asking. I am Theophilus Odaudu, Program Officer – Nigeria, Disability Rights Fund (DRF). I am a 2022 D-30 Diversability Awardee. The D-30 Diversability Impact Award honors 30 persons with disabilities for their contributions to the disability community. It is a global award and awardees are from different countries across the globe.

TQM: How do you feel about the honour?

I feel happy that I was considered for this award. As you know, the nature of my work is such that my contributions to the growth of the disability community are not visible. In DRF, we project our grantees (the OPDs) while we stay in the background, providing support. So, it was a surprise when I was contact that someone has nominated me for the award. Nonetheless, I feel happy that our efforts are being recognized, even though we are not so active on the field.

Theophilus Odaudu

TQM: What do you think is responsible for your selection?

Even though the Diversability team did not share the content of my nomination with me, I feel it is because of the impact that the Disability Rights Fund and Disability Rights Advocacy Fund (DRF/DRAF) has made and is still making in the disability community in Nigeria. As you know, since DRF/DRAF begun grantmaking in Nigeria, more OPDs have access to funds for rights advocacy and more voices are now calling for disability inclusion. Anyone who has been in the movement over time will agree that DRF/DRAF has revolutionized the disability rights movement in Nigeria. I am privileged to be working for DRF/DRAF at this time to be a part of the movement to change lives of persons with disabilities in Nigeria. We have supported over 30 OPDs, provided technical assistance to build capacities in various key areas, and funded the movement so far with over 1 million USD. We are still here and will be doing more. So, I am sure someone is impressed and did nominate me for this award.

TQM: What does this recognition mean to you going forward?

I see this as a call to do more. It means that through my work, many persons and organizations in the community are being impacted positively, and I cannot afford to relent at this time. So, it is a call to action, and a recognition of the work we do in the society.

TQM: Who do you attribute this honour to?

This Award is dedicated to the Disability Rights Fund and all my colleagues in the organization. In DRF, we work as a team and everyone plays one role or the other in everyone’s success. So, whatever I have been able to do in Nigeria is not a result of my sole effort. Rather, the efforts of everyone in DRF/DRAF. Hence, I feel that the real awardee here is DRF/DRAF. I must thank all my colleagues for supporting me in this journey.

TQM: What message do you have for the organizers?

I would like to thank the Diversability Team for initiating this award. It is commendable, especially that they were able to look beyond those active in the field to those who spur the actions.

TQM: What message do you have for the disability community?

There is so much to be done, and there is work for everyone. Let us all work in unison for the growth of the disability community. We need to see more concrete outcomes through our advocacy leading to real change on the ground for the benefit of all, especially those being marginalized amongs us. Let us support each other to grow; we will all be better for it.

TQM: Looking at disability movement in Nigeria, the Act, the Commission, MDAs activities of OPDs, Donor Agencies, other CSOs, what is your appraisal?

A lot is happening and many people, including duty bearers are committing to the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities. This is a good thing and a departure from what used to be. However, we need more positive actions towards the realisation of these rights. Policy and legislative reforms should reflect the provisions of the disability Act; and programs and interventions should be inclusive in the real sense of the word, leaving no one behind.

TQM: Your parting words?

A disability rights respecting society will benefit everyone in the short and long run. So, the right way to go is the way of disability inclusion.

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