As Akeredolu takes away long-suffering of persons with disabilities

Politics | Sept 21, 2020

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They were initially regarded as unfit and never-do-well. In the public places, they were seen as second fiddle who must be assisted to carry out the simplest of task. Even in their respective homes or houses, they were hardly given a chance to compete with other members of their families considered fit and able. Except in schools, experience has shown that Special Persons (people living with disabilities) are hardly given the opportunity to practically prove that they were fearfully and wonderfully created by their Maker.
Some people tend to believe that Special Persons don’t usually deserve to enjoy the best of facilities provided by the government or its agencies. In short, Special Persons are wrongly and ignorantly tagged as lesser creatures who must be separated from their able bodied counterparts because they were believed to have lacked creative ability and intelligence.
Due to the ignominious tagging of the Special Persons as never-do-well, many of them have been subjected to inhuman and nasty experiences, even by members of their immediate families.
But all the discreditable and wrong perceptions of the Special Persons as never-do-well have become a thing of the past in Ondo State. Governnor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, has pulled down the perceived strong wall standing between those generally regarded as persons with disabilities and their able bodied counterparts. To Governnor Akeredolu, everybody, irrespective of their social status and religious beliefs, is equal before him. His government considers what is sauce for the goose as equally sauce for the gander. The governor never promotes discrimination of any kind between the Special Persons and the able bodied class. Be it king or servant, all the public facilities in the state are, therefore, accessible to all the residents of the state for the promotion of their happiness and wellbeing.
Upon assumption of office in 2017, Arakunrin Akeredolu created a platform for the Special Persons to enable his government to meet their needs. He appointed Folasade Arise (one of them) as the Special Assistant to the Governor on Special Persons to serve as the link between his Office and the Agency for the Welfare of Persons with Disabilities. It was the first time in the political history of Ondo State that the office of the Special Assistant to the Governor on Special Person would be created.
Since the office was created in 2017, not a few lives have been positively impacted by the governor. For example, beneficiaries of free artificial limbs provided by the Akeredolu-led government for the Special Persons have not stopped appreciating the governor for the special intervention. Following the provision and allocation of the artificial limbs, investigations have revealed that the beneficiaries are now performing with relative ease tasks hitherto regarded as difficult. They can now move with less stress from one place to another to pursue their happiness and daily livelihoods.
The following beneficiaries of the artificial limbs: Odetunde Semilore, Akinbami Akinyemi, Andrew Emmanuel, Adesuyi Bola, Ogundeji Samuel Folayan Williams, Ogunride Johnson, Babalola Gabriel, Adetimehin Philip, Olamide Christianah, Taye Akinrinmisi, Omolade Samson, Akinyemi Ademola, Apata Kolawole, Akinyemi Rafat, Adebayo Dele, Bobade Bimpe, Akande Samson, Ayodele Otolorun and Dominic Daudu have not only seen life as beautiful and worth-living, they have also accepted that given the friendly and relevant support provided for them by the Akeredolu-led government, every challenge is surmountable and every palpable fear can be overcome. Interestingly, they have joyfully seen themselves as contributors to the society’s wellbeing. Their admiration and those of their families will forever be for Governor Akeredolu’s fatherly concern for their happiness and progress.
Besides the limbs given to those who needed the items to aid their mobility, it is also interesting to learn that the Special Persons have not stopped to enjoy other fascinating experiences under the current Ondo State Government.
From 2017 till the present moment, the experiences of the Special Persons have been wonderful.
Mr. Governnor, being a God-fearing leader who sees everyone as equal before him, has always released the yearly subvention for the persons with disabilities. Between 2017 and now, Arakunrin Akeredolu has been releasing funds for the celebration of International Day for Persons with Disabilities and the celebration of International Albinism Awareness Day. In 2017 alone, the governor sponsored the following hearing impaired persons – Mr. Abiola Abiodun, Mr. Abass Suleman, Mr. Adigbo Olanrewaju, Mrs. Dorcas Fatunwase and Mr. Kolawole Olugbenga – to attend a five-day conference in Abakaliki. Also in the same year, albinos, such as Mr. Fagoriola Ayodele, Mr. Abimbola Oluwasegun, Mrs. Oluwabusola Ademeko, Mr. Ogudu Samson, Mrs. Ayotunde Kemi, Mr. David Tito and Miss Aladejana Medinat, were equally sponsored to attend conference in Abuja to expand their knowledge on how to maintain their skin.
Besides the funfare that trailed the celebration of 2018 International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the government of Akeredolu provided empowerment materials such as sewing machines, grinding machines, generating sets and barbing kits, among others, for the persons with disabilities to take their long-suffering away. It was the first time the International White Cane Day was celebrated in Ondo State.
Other scintillating interventions packaged by the state government for lifting the persons with disabilities in 2018 included provision of mobility aids and appliances to visually impaired persons; distribution of bursary to students and cash empowerment to those in need; persons with albinism were given recommended glasses to correct their eyes defects and sunscreen cream to protect their skin from sunburnt and cancer.
From November 15, 2018 to November 17 of the same year, the government of Akeredolu sponsored Mr. Akindele Akinlayo, Mr. Abiola Abiodun, Mr. Adams Surajudeen, Mrs. Ogunmola Kemisola, Mrs. Ademola Sefunmi and Mr. Abayomi Olawoye to attend the Joint National National Association of Persons with Disabilities in Abuja.
Also, Mr. Oluboji Olaniyi, Mr. Oluwole Ajakaye, Mrs. Ojo Folasade, Miss Ogudu Christianah, Mrs. Opotiki Funmilola and Ayebo Segun benefitted immensely from the five-day workshop on Entrepreneurial Skill and Health organised for persons with albinism between April 17, 2018 and April 21, 2018 in Abuja.
The women wing of the visually impaired persons were not left out. Fatunwase Dorcas, Ademola Yemisi, Ahmed Silifat, Olutimehin Mubo and Saliu Peace were given fund to attend a national conference in Anambra State between April 7 and April 14, 2018. Also in the same year, participants, including Adigbo Olanrewaju, Afolabi Gbiri, Busari Lateef, Ademola Yemisi and Fatunwase Dorcas got the governor’s sponsorship to attend the First Deaf Awareness Week/Cultural and Arts Festival held in Ibadan between July 31 and August 4, 2018.
Like their colleagues, Sefunmi Adekola, Kayode Abel, Alegbeleye Sanmi, Kemi Idepe, Adenibuyan Monday, Nasiru Oladele and Olowola Ronke were sponsored to the National Convention of the National Association of the Blind held in Katsina.
The experiences of persons with disabilities in 2019 have not been disappointing as well. Such experiences are such that cannot be forgotten in a hurry. On July 17, 2019, Governor Akeredolu inaugurated a board for the Agency for the Welfare of Persons with Disabilities thereby raisaing the status of the agency for efficiency. The recently constructed elevator in the Governor’s Office was done following the request of the agency to enhance the accessibility of persons with disabilities to the governor.
The Ondo State chapter of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities participated in a five-day Entrepreneurial Skills Development Policy and Training workshop for marginalised groups in Nigeria towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals held in Abuja from July 1 to July 5, 2019. Participants at the workshop included Olowola Adeola, Abiodun Olusegun, Akintade Adebowale, Falayi Bukola Mercy, Omobomi Toyin, Apara Foluso, Olayiwola Stephen, Adigbo Olanrewaju, David Majasan and Adams Surajudeen.
Governor Akeredolu did not limit his good deeds towards the persons with disabilities to sponsoring of workshops and conferences alone. He gave financial assistance to some of them to expand their businesses. For instance, Mr. Majasan Niyi (visually impaired) got Mr. Governor’s N500,000 for the expansion of his poultry farm, while Mr. Bunmi Ajayi (physically challenged) got N182,000 to establish barbing business.
It is gratifying to confirm that just on August 13, 2020, Arakunrin Akeredolu gave employment to no fewer than 35 persons with disabilities. The gesture, according to the governor, was in fulfillment of his administration’s promise to continue to respect the rights of persons with disabilities in all fronts.
At a ceremony held at the Cocoa Conference Hall of the Governor’s Office, the 35 beneficiaries of the employment, who consist 24 senior workers and 11 junior workers, were full of appreciation to the governor for showing concern for the promotion of their interests.
As Governor Akeredolu is prudently running the affairs of the Ondo State on the right path, without sacrificing the interest of any section or group, it is therefore safe to conclude that the people made the right choice when they trooped out in their thousands to election Akeredolu as their governor.

Fisayo Falodi
Press Secretary (Print) to Gov Akeredolu