by Chuks Ezewuzie,
Without prejudice, it is gratifying to note that in the past seven years and five months, members of the disability community have been the greatest beneficiaries of the Governor Willie Obiano administration in Anambra state. Since 2014, Akpokuedike has done a lot for the Disability community in the state. This is to the extent that while the workers call him the alert governor, the community nicknamed Governor Obiano, OGUGUO NDI OLUSI.
Governor Obiano has done for Ndi Olusi what had never been done, even from the old Anambra state. For instance, for the first time since the creation of Anambra state 30 years ago,, Sir Willie established Office of the Governor on Disability Matters (OGDM), which implements governor’s fission for persons with disabilities. Anambra, under Obiano, is also the first state in West Africa to appoint visually impaired and other persons with disability as Permanent Secretaries in Public service as well as employed several persons with Disabilities into the state’s civil service.
Last week, one of the eleven Permanent Secretaries newly sworn-in by the governor, Tony Idigo, a barrister, is from the disability community. Today, a person with disability is a member of the State Executive Council, which is the highest ruling organ of the state government and membership of the State Tenders board. The governor appointed over five persons with Disabilities to his cabinet.
Anambra is the only state in the South East of Nigeria to enact a law (Anambra State Disabilities Rights Law). The law provides for inclusion of persons with Disabilities in state policies and programs; guarantees employment opportunities for persons with Disabilities and prohibits discrimination against and the protection of the rights of persons with Disabilities as well as provides for the education and sporting opportunities for persons with Disabilities etcetera.
Under Obiano, civil servants with Disabilities are promoted to their rightful service levels after years of neglect and stagnation. Akpokuedike recognized and rewarded athletes with Disabilities who won medals at the national and international competitions. He equally encouraged and rewarded persons with disabilities who have made outstanding achievements in different professional fields; most recent being a visually impaired author of a Mathematics book and a proponent of a new mathematical formula.
Sir Willie provided support for Disability Law Center for facilitation of access to justice and protection of Disability cum human rights of persons with Disabilities. He also facilitated Access Computer Technology center (ACT) and provided assistive and mobility equipment for productivity enhancements of persons with Disabilities as well as institution of free transportation in the state owned vehicles for persons with Disabilities.
Governor Obiano ensured recruitment of five sign language interpreters, more Deaf teachers, Braille instructors and computer instructors for persons with Disabilities. He established state Disability forum for dialogue between Government and Disability community with a view to providing assessment of and advice on Government policies and programs for persons with Disabilities.