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Opinion

Lending A Voice To Persons With Disabilities (PWD’s) In The Face Of COVID-19

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By Odunayo Oluwatimilehin

According to Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (‘DDA’), a person is perceived to be a disabled if:

a. ‘ They have a physical or mental impairment, and

b. the impairment has a substantial and long term adverse effect on the person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’.

The above definition covers:

  • People with HIV, and cancer. People that have multiple sclerosis are also deemed as disabled as soon as they are diagnosed.
  • Other progressive conditions, such as motor neurone disease, muscular dystrophy, and forms of dementia.
  • A person who is certified as blind, severely sight impaired, sight impaired or partially sighted by a consultant ophthalmologist is deemed to have a disability.
  • Severe disfigurement is treated as a disability.
  • A range of conditions are treated as a disability, as long as the other factors from the definition are met, in terms of having substantial and long-term impact on the ability to do normal day to day activities,

– Sensory impairments, such as those affecting sight or hearing.
– Auto-immune conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE).
– Organ specific conditions, including respiratory conditions such as asthma, and cardiovascular diseases, including thrombosis, stroke and heart disease.

– Developmental conditions, such as autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) and Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

According to the World Health Organization’s 2011 World Disability Report, about 15 percent of Nigeria’s population, or at least 25 million people, have a disability with over 3.5million of them having difficult challenges of moving around. Many of them face a number of human rights abuses including stigma, discrimination, violence, and lack of access to healthcare, housing, and education.
In the face of the global threatening and dreadful Coronavirus pandemic, the community of disabled persons have been excommunicated and relegated to the background by the State and Federal Government in Nigeria.

An aggrieved citizen pointed out that it would have cost the government nothing to attach a sign language interpreter beside the President and State Governor’s while they addressed the citizens over the developments as regards COVID-19. As this would enable those who are deaf and dumb to understand the critical times we are in, and also make them have a strong sense of belonging and be informed about the need to be cautious during this period. It was gathered that all the adverts, gingles, announcement, etc about or on how to stay safe in this period are tailored wholly for the typical citizens. This to a large extent is not fair enough as this does not portray our country has been Disability sensitive.

Disabled persons in our societies are the most vulnerable and indigent. A Disability Ambassador in Lagos, Mrs Franca, expressed her pain of government neglect of PWD’s especially in such a critical time as this, “I want to say that my people have been excommunicated or boycotted from the Covid-19 safety and precautions awareness and even the Covid-19 stimulus package”.
‘Based on the above submission, I wish to remind us that the Disabled persons are more vulnerable to Covid-19 than pregnant women and the elderly’.

Mrs. Franca later updated that Lagos State Government, on Thursday 2nd April, 2020, gave 100 bags of COVID-19 relief packages to the disabled community in Lagos State. Though minute to the number of persons with disabilities in the state, the government promise more in the next batches. This is a laudable effort which can be improved on, I also implore other State Governments to imitate and exceed this.
Before the Stay at Home directives, People with Disabilities experience difficulty in fending for themselves and families, how much more now that they are asked to stay indoor without hope of where their next meal will surface from. Their plight this period of Lockdown can only be imagined than experienced.

I therefore call on all State Governments in Nigeria to ensure that this group of people receive the best possible care this period. In the various States, the welfare of PWD’s should top the list while urgent considerations should also be given to them in the process of distribution of Stimulus Packages as a means of alleviating their plight. Various NGO’s are not also left out in this utmost service to humanity at this crucial time.

Be a voice, be a helping hand, and a miracle to Person’s With Disabilities around you during this downtime, posterity will never forget your good deed.

#AVoiceToPWD’s
#COVID-19
#NaijaLockdown
#IAmMegaTimmy

Odunayo Oluwatimilehin, OYEWOLE.
A Postgraduate Student, University of Ibadan.

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Opinion

COVID-19: Time For Buhari To Replace His Mercedes With Innoson

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By SKC Ogbonnia

The consensus around the world is that the lessons from the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) would provoke commonsense among Nigerian leaders to harness the full potential of their local economy, but this dream may never come close, if President Muhammadu Buhari does not lead by example.

A defining theme of my foray into the 2019 presidential race is that Nigeria’s problem is not as complex as commonly imagined. For the problem is neither the lack of natural resources nor human resources. It certainly has nothing to do with good visions or the enabling policies. The Nigerian endemic problem is squarely the failure to influence the efficient implementation of the policies towards the greater good.

It is not surprising, therefore, that amid the COVID-19 pandemic, President Buhari demonstrated visionary leadership by declaring that Nigeria will henceforth promote and patronize made-in-Nigeria products over foreign goods. Buhari’s vision is laudable and mirrors the case of Asian countries, particularly China and India, which for several decades banned a good number of foreign products to enable their local industries to thrive. Today, both Asian nations have become economic envy of the world.

Interestingly, not long after the made-in-Nigeria policy went public, instead of patronizing Innoson Motors, the sole local auto manufacturing outfit, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) hurriedly approved a whopping sum of N683, 613 million for purchase of 19 Made-In-Japan Toyota vehicles for the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA).

According to the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, the justification for the abrupt breach of the policy is that the need for the foreign vehicles predated the COVID-19 pandemic. As if her logic lacks in folly, the Minister of Transport, Chibuike Amaechi, followed that the approval became necessary, because “it’s the first time in four years that NPA was buying any vehicle.”

The simple takeaway from both Ahmed and Amaechi is that Nigerian leaders embrace lunacy as legacy. This goes without saying that the rationale behind the choice of the foreign vehicles over local brands has nothing to do with the common good. Instead, it has everything to do with the manic competition for financial profligacy among the different arms of the Nigerian government.

The decision by the Executive arm of government is merely to outdo the wastefulness synonymous with the Nigerian Legislature. The NPA squander dittoed the Senate, which not long ago rejected Innoson only to launder over N5 billion for Toyota brands. The House of Representatives would also double down to sink another N5 billion into Toyota Camry saloon cars in place of moderately priced Innoson jeeps that are specially designed and tested for the Nigerian roads.

This pattern of lavishness by public officials, particularly under the prevailing COVID-19 crisis, is plain cold-blooded. It is impunity going too far.

But President Muhammadu Buhari must own full blame. Though his call to patronize local products is commendable, he is neither able to influence his appointees to implement the policy nor able to lead by example himself. Rather than demonstrate patriotism, by proudly using the Made-in-Nigeria goods that he preaches, Buhari appears to be emulating the ostentatious style of the regime before him.

Mister Buhari should quickly revert to the tenets of his 2016 “Change Begins With Me” slogan. The core principle demands that he declares Innoson as the official brand for all government agencies, beginning with the Presidency. If a General Buhari, as a military head of state, could endear himself to the Nigerian people over 30 years ago, by embracing jagged foreign Peugeot—then assembled in Nigeria—as a badge of honor, it is only patriotic for him to replicate such gesture for wholly made-in-Nigeria vehicles.

It is worth mentioning, however, that the Innoson Motors is on record to have stated that the company has seen more patronage from the Buhari government than the one before it. That is commendable, at base. But the mediocrity of the previous regime can never be substituted as a gold standard for success.

President Buhari is a man widely known as ascetic and who assumed power on the mantra of revolutionary change. He should, therefore, embolden his change vision, as well as the authenticity of his policy on local goods, so that others can follow. The message, if it is not already explicit, is that the Nigerian president should, without further delay, replace his official car, a German-made Mercedes Benz, with a Nigerian-made Innoson brand.

The COVID-19 pandemic has combined to plunge Nigeria into an economic miasma and true change has become inevitable. The leaders can no longer afford to carry on business as usual. In short, besides leading by example, it has become imperative for President Buhari to remind public officials that the country risks a serious mass revolt, if they continue to swim in ocean of affluence while submerging the masses deeper and deeper into abject poverty and despair.

SKC Ogbonnia, a 2019 APC Presidential Aspirant, writes from Ugbo, Awgu, Enugu State. Twitter: @SKCOgbonnia

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Opinion

Let Me Shine!

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Nigeria

By Odunayo Oluwatimilehin

I am a little creature,
created to fulfill a special purpose on earth.
I am a product of human consummation.

I developed first as a foetus, and progressed gradually,
into a living being composed of a spirit, soul, and a body.

I am the long awaited bundle of joy,
A symbol of conjugal completeness,
A magical color that beautifies Marital vows.

I brought joy, happiness, and change of status to the family I was delivered to.
I was the reason behind the bright moon smiles on faces.
I was cherished, loved, and cared for at my arrival.

Now that my parents desire to have me has been granted.
I have just “One wish”.
Just one wish and I’ll be fine.

One wish to express my inert dreams.
One wish to be ‘Me’.
One wish to leave an indelible mark on the sand of time.

One wish to dazzle like Diamond.
One wish to shine forth as Gold.

Please, strengthen me when I’m weak.
Counsel me when I’m discouraged.
Hold my hands often, and affirm your love to me.

Just like houseplants,
Nurture me to grow on the right path.
Do not spare the rod when I’m wrong.

Release me like an Eagle when the time is right.
No matter the heights I’ll reach,
I will forever remain your little child.
Let me Shine!

Dedicated to Children all over the world, in celebration of May 27th, 2020 Children’s Day

HAPPY CHILDREN’S DAY!

Odunayo Oluwatimilehin, OYEWOLE.

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Opinion

An Open Letter To Governor Ifeanyi Okowa

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Your Excellency Sir,

This open letter is a direct response to the official press statement that was made by the secretary to the state Government, Mr Chiedu Ebie on the 19th of May. In the press release, he announced that the government of Delta State is putting measures in place in other to establish a security organization which will be positioned to combat the rising insecurity in the State. I agree with your decision considering the porous security situation in the country and coupled with the covert moves of the powers that be to export hundreds of Almajiri folks to states that are unconnected to their political and economic misery.

Indeed, your decision is commendable but there is an observable error in it. This error is not telling good about us. Gains will not be made if what was mentioned in that press statement should come to be. People who are fighting for survival must apply common sense when it comes to their security. This letter is simply designed to remind you that the idea to include some Northerners into the yet to be established Office of Special Adviser on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution calls for a serious concern.

Your Excellency Sir, there won’t be any need for me to start schooling you again about insecurity in the country. You are the chief security officer of your state and moreover you duly understand the security situation in the whole of Nigeria. I still don’t understand the rationale behind the planned inclusion of some Northern extraction into the Office of Special Adviser on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution. After examining the decision, I can prognosticate dark days ahead. Things are not done that way. The decision of your government is somewhat misplaced and makes us to look like people who can’t do things on their own.

Dark days are truly ahead. We the Easterners should stop acting to love Nigeria more than others when at the end the people whom we are trying to align ourselves to doesn’t care about our ‘one Nigerianness’. Damning this mentality of ‘let’s do it this way so that nobody will see us as divisive people’ is one necessary thing that must be done. We owe no one apology or explanation on how we can go about our security in as much as it’s done according to the extant laws. Perhaps, it’s a matter of survival and not a cry for political correctness!

There is hisbah police in the North and Amotekun in the Southwest, how many Easterner can we see both in Hisbah and Amotekun security formations or any of their affiliated committees? Can they even conceive such dastardly idea? These people for a minute don’t trust us but we easily trust and unnecessarily engage them into sensitive issues about us. This is a country that thrive on suspicion. No oneness! No trust! So I wonder what your government is planning to achieve by getting these Northerners involved in the so called committee. Don’t quote me wrong. I’m not trying to say that your government shouldn’t engage the stakeholders in consultation when it comes to matters like this. But the main point is that limitations should be defined in sensitive issues like the one at hand. Some people are meant to stand outside while certain problems about us are being discussed.

We know the solution to farmers and herders clashes in the region. Open grazing should be completely banned in the state. A defined space should be made available for grazing of cows. 24 hours surveillance should be mounted in the place. Any herder caught with firearms should be arrested and prosecuted without minding who is infuriated or not. As the chief security of your state, you are constitutionally responsible for the security of your constituents. Adequate security decisions and actions should be made to work in consonance with the present security reality.

On several occasions, the marauding herders have killed and displaced hundreds of farmers in the Eastern region with little or no actions by the governors to arrest the escalating tension. Without minding the damage the activities of the herders have caused on the region, you unfortunately fell to the trick of wanting to involve a total stranger into the Office of Special Adviser on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution. It is unacceptable Sir! That decision can blatantly result to self sabotage.

However, when Hisbah was formed, no Easterner was there. And when Amotekun was constituted, they never invited an Easterner to be a member of any committee so why are we inviting strangers into important issues about us? Remember, he who sups with the devil should have a long spoon. The purported plan of involving some Northern elements into the Office of Special Adviser on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution is a slap on us. The plan should be revised. There is no benefit in it. It will only complicate matters and magnify the arrogance of these tormentors. Don’t make the mistake of buying a baby lion that will grow and turn around to devour our flesh.

In conclusion Sir, I will suggest you reassemble your security tink tanks. All of you should sit and do a deep brainstorming on your decision. Weigh the future implications and make proper amendments. Let’s avoid the issue of had I known.

Yours sincerely

Kalu Nwokoro Idika

Kalu Nwokoro Idika is a political analyst, investigative and freelance journalist. He can be reached via email: Kalunwokoroidika@yahoo.com

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