The clamour for a society which respects the fundamental human rights of its citizens cannot be achieved, if persons living with disabilities are still suffering violent violations in the society where they belong.
This was the position of Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, President Women Arise and Centre for Change.
Okei-Odumakin made her declaration known today, during the Social inclusion dialogue series with the theme: “Empowering persons with disabilities and Ensuring inclusiveness and equality in ICT”; in commemoration of the United Nations International Day of Persons with disability, organized by Project Enable, in Lagos.
Speaking further, she urged the government and Nigerians to wake up to the responsibilities of giving love and social access to people living with disabilities.
“The fact that an estimated 20 million people are living with disabilities and social needs are so disheartening and there is a sharp rise in the numbers. We need more awareness and empowerment, this technology-driven initiative is a welcome development because it will help them to strive better and enhance their social inclusion”.
“A person with disability who is denied access has suffered violent violations of fundamental human rights, there is no way that we can put off the rights of those living with disability and talk about protection of human rights. Their rights remain fundamental and it should be respected”.
Okei-Odumakin also stated the important role of guiding laws and a change of mindset because; “They should have rights to vote, access to infrastructure, transportation and a host of other benefits, but they are seen as less human and that is why I believe that a state of emergency should be declared within the area of those with disability, so that they can be given the highest priority and accommodated. This is a wakeup call to the government and Nigerians at large. The government should do a lot more in ensuring that all the necessary access should become a thing of priority”.
Buttressing further what technology can do to people living with disabilities, the United State Consul General, John Bray, represented by the Public Affairs officer Russel Brooks, stated that PWD’s deserve a right to technology and be respected in the society.
“PWD’s deserve the right to have access to technology, they are humans and have rights, which should be respected and embraced. Today is one of those days where we accord them those rights. All societies should make a place for people living with disabilities. As Nigeria work towards becoming an inclusive society, must embrace the needs of these people. They have the rights to benefit from a democratic government”.
Bray also affirmed the role the US government is playing to ensure that the Project Enable is sustained and recorded with high impacts.
“The US consulate considers ourselves as one of the founders of project enable, we provided an initial donation to get the project started and now, it has blossomed into such a fantastic group, accomplishing great things”.
The Executive Director, Project Enable, Olusola Owonikoko attested to the fact that a significant proportion of people with disabilities are yet to benefit from social inclusion and economic empowerment, while stating that the project will seek to expand, following the recent grants it received from Google and a list of other partners.
“Since our focus on digital inclusion started in 2017, we realized that we needed something to bridge the discrimination, and ICT was an opportunity for us. We inducted the first set of 20 last year and we saw the talents these people have and 5 of them will be joining us in 2019 to learn more after showing commitments”.
“In 2019, the grant we just received from google and our existing partners, we would be expanding because the 19 million PWD’s is alarming and we are only doing 40. That is almost insignificant, but then, we are doing something and we hope to expand as it goes on”.
Owonikoko revealed that the initiative is; “developing a platform created by one of the beneficiaries of the first edition, that will enable it reach more people in an inclusive way so the message of social inclusion and economic empowerment can be spread”.