Disability Not A Barrier Initiative (DINABI) kickstarted the implementation of its project titled “Advocacy for Inclusion” with an advocacy visit to National Human Right Commission, Ekiti state office on Tuesday, 28th September, 2021.
The project which aimed at ensuring inclusion and full participation of persons with disabilities in all spheres of the society as well as drawing the attention of critical stakeholders and duty bearers to perform their duties inclusively towards implementation of Disability Laws/Act in Nigeria.
The Executive Director, DINABI, Mr Olajide Funso who led the delegation in his speech, explained that the purpose of the visit to the commission was to familiarize with the commission and seek for partnership in order to ensure inclusion, equity and justice for persons with disabilities. Mr Olajide who is also a person with disability lamented the level of exclusion and discrimination being faced by persons with disabilities in Nigeria. He narrated various cases of abuse, exploitation, harassment and total exclusion that millions of persons with disabilities are being subjected to on daily basis.
He called on the commission to set up a Disability Desk, that is assigning an Officer with vast knowledge on disability issues and rights to always interface with persons with disabilities whenever they seek the services of the commission.
Mr Olajide also urged the commission to ensure the protection of rights of persons with disabilities across the nation through prompt response to allegations of human rights violations, advocacy, education and intervention programs as enshrined in the commission’s mission statement.
A Volunteer at DINABI, Mr Omotola Omotunla also called on the commission to ensure the deployment of sign language interpreters in all their offices across Nigeria to ensure smooth communication. He also called the attention of the commission to the incessant discrimination being faced by some PWDs in the hands of police and FRSC officials as they are usually being harassed based on a presumed “not being legally allowed to drive”. He attributed this to lack of adequate knowledge on the part of such officers.
In his response, the Ekiti State Coordinator of NHRC, Mr Biodun Adigun who was represented by Mrs Adesina Ayomide welcomed DINABI team to the commission and appreciated them for the positive impacts they have made on the lives of persons with disabilities in the state.
She expressed the commission’s readiness to continue to collaborate with DINABI to ensure inclusion, equity and justice for all persons with disabilities. The state office of the commission also promised to make recommendation to the head office on the establishment of a Disability Desk Office in all their State Offices across the nation.
In their separate responses, Mr Bayo Babalola, Com. Adeagbo Adesola, Mr Gbadeyan and Mrs Ogugua Mercy of the Commission expressed the commission’s readiness to continually protect the rights of all citizens including PWDs. They also gave the office phone numbers where citizens, especially members of the disability community can call when their rights are violated.
In a similar development, DINABI also paid an advocacy visit to the Ekiti State Office for Disability Affairs where the Executive Secretary of the agency, Mrs Funmilayo Fatoba expressed her delight at the prospect of collaborating with DINABI to ensure inclusion and service delivery to thousands of persons with disabilities in Ekiti state.
Earlier, DINABI’s Program Officers, Mrs Alonge Helen and Mr Oni Emmanuel called on the agency to ensure the recruitment of a Sign Language Interpreter for the agency. They also urged the agency to change the name from Ekiti State office for Disability Affairs to Ekiti State Agency for Persons with Disabilities as contained in the Ekiti State Disability Law 2020. Mrs Alonge also expressed her displeasure at healthcare services that are grossly inaccessible in the state for PWDs.
A Volunteer at DINABI, Miss Adeyemi Tosin while expressing worries at the dilapidated state of the schools, called on the agency to join hands with other sister agencies to save the three special schools in the state from total collapse. She used the opportunity to appreciate the state government for the establishment of EKSODA, appointment of SSA on Disability Matters to the Governor and Board members for the Disability Agency as well as passage and signing of the State Disability Law.
The JONAPWD chairman in Ekiti state, Mr Owolabi Kayode who was represented by the Assistant General Secretary, Mr Seidu Olasunkanmi also appreciated DINABI for all their intervention programs in Ekiti. He also encouraged the agency to ensure persons with disabilities enjoy dividends of democracy as their counterparts without disabilities.
In their own responses, a Director in the agency, Mr Bayo Odewale and Deputy Director, Mr Toye Ojo appreciated DINABI for a timely visit. He took time to highlight some of the achievements of the agency and promised to do more. He promised to work in synergy with DINABI to ensure inclusive education, accessible healthcare and justice for persons with disabilities.
The Executive Secretary of the agency, Mrs Fatoba also promised to work on the change of the name to what is embedded in the law by liaising with appropriate quarters on the subject matter.