- Physically challenged people have pointed accusing finger against government and society as working against their favour
- They said in almost all areas of life, society and government do not take them into consideration
- They are saying that government and society should put them into consideration in policy formulation and implementation
Beyond the considerations made by government during recruitment exercises which are largely political, people living with physical disabilities have accused the Nigerian system of being unfair to them, insisting that in matters of public facilities as well as policies and infrastructure, the society and the government do not have them in mind.
In an exclusive interview with NAIJ.com, Dr. Joseph Chikunie, National Coordinator of Association of Individuals Living with Physical Disabilities (AIPD), said the society has remained very unfair to people who have physical disabilities.
Dr. Chikunie pointed out that the bill for the physically challenged is yet to be assented by the president despite its passage some time ago, as a result of which the Nigerian society still has facilities such as Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) fixed on elevated floors, high tower public buildings designed without elevators to aid the movement of people with disabilities as well as traffic arrangements not taking cognizance of physically challenged persons.
He made reference to a previous scene he encountered where a physically challenged woman who fell off her wheel chair while trying to use the ATM, and eventually had to leave the banking premises without performing the intended transaction after repeated futile attempts.
He noted that such was just one out of many proofs that in many ways, the Nigerian society is designed against the interest of the physically challenged, as the government is not doing much for the over 25 million physically challenged people in Nigeria.
Dr. Chikunie, who despite being physically challenged, is also a lecturer at the University of Lagos, stated that they needed to be treated fairly and given equal opportunities to help the actualize their goals.
“What we need most is a level playing ground that will help us actualize our dreams. We all have ambitions to live out; we just need the opportunity to actualize that,” he told NAIJ.com who ran into him in Asaba, the Delta state capital.
Recalling his growing up days, he said he constantly had to deal with mockery and derogatory remarks from people despite his brilliant academic performance, and only managed to get university education due to the intervention of his uncle, Prof. Willy Iyiegbuniwe of Finance Department, University of Lagos.
He said Professor Willy Iyiegbuniwe took him to stay with him and took care of his education at the institution where he graduated as the best student of the Philosophy Department and was later taken as an Assistant Lecturer.
He revealed that the foundation of AIPD was born out of his desire to give back to the society, and hinged on the cardinal objectives of promoting equal opportunities, economic empowerment and independent living for the physically challenged, especially in terms of education and massive skills acquisition, as well as social infrastructure such as transport facilities to enable them move around freely.
He added that even though the association is starting from campuses and has already achieved massive progress in UNILAG, it hopes to spread to all educational institutions in the country, as the major source of funding are those well-meaning individuals who have shown commitment to the ideals and goals of the organization.
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