EKITI, Nigeria – The Chairman Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, has described the physically challenged citizens as the most neglected in Nigeria, urging the federal government to create a special Ministry to cater to their welfare.
Bamidele, who is representing Ekiti Central in the National Assembly, said this in Ado Ekiti, on Monday, during an empowerment programme he organised for 500 physically challenged, women and youths in Ekiti Central Senatorial District.
The beneficiaries, who received a week-long training, were empowered with cash, sewing machines, hairdryers and exposed to business and entrepreneurial opportunities.
They were drawn from Ado, Efon, Ijero, Ekiti West and Irepodun/Ifelodun local government areas that constitute the Senatorial District.
Bamidele averred that his “Bringing out Abilities in Disabilities” programme for the deaf, dumb, blind, albinos and cripples, was conceptualised to make lives better for those in this category in terms of economic independence.
“In Nigeria, those in this category are the most neglected. They are being downgraded, neglected and despised in terms of job opportunities, political appointments and other considerations. Not until recently, the Government had no special policy favouring them. They are not being considered for political positions and even favourable education policy was not there to give them a sense of belonging.
“Another area that had added more to their sufferings is the fact that some of them had resigned to fate. They had this warped and twisted impression that being physically challenged has crippled their destiny. This is wrong and we have to encourage you to rise above this pedestrian thinking.
“We are hopeful that now that your issues are being taken care of in terms of the electoral system, appointments, employment and others, your sufferings will get alleviated gradually.
“If we can have a Ministry of Youth, Ministry of Women Affairs, it is not impossible for the federal government to create a Ministry for special and dedicated focus on the wellbeing of the physically challenged citizens”.
Appraising the impacts of empowerment on members, the Chairman, Joint National Association of People’s Living With Disabilities (JONAPID), Mr. Kayode Owolabi, said the help received would help tremendously in alleviating the pervasive poverty among their ranks.
Owolabi added that the current harsh economic situation has been having a toll on JONAPID members across the country, saying the empowerment drive would help reduce the pains the generally unfavourable economic situation had inflicted on them.