By Grace Alegba
A philanthropist, Mr Olabode Garbadeen, has appealed to the Federal Government to evolve a policy to make People With Disabilities (PWDs) to have easy access to the coronavirus intervention fund.
Olabode, who is the Director-General of a group, known as Eternal Care Foundation (ECF), made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos.
He was speaking on the sidelines of an end-of-year party for blind people in Lagos, organised by the foundation to give blind students a sense of belonging.
At the event, held at the Federal Nigeria Society for the Blind Vocational Centre in Oshodi, Garbadeen lauded the Federal Government for establishing the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities.
“The year 2020 was quite challenging for everyone because of COVID-19 and you can imagine how hard it will be for blind people and people with other forms of disabilities.
“That is why I am appealing that they should remove every form of bureaucracy to make it easy for persons with disabilities to quickly get their own quota of the COVID-19 intervention fund.”
He also commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Discrimination Against PWDs (Prohibition) Act, 2018 into law, adding that government should ensure the deployment of infrastructure to cater for PWDs.
Garbadeen pointed out that Lagos State had developed a working model that could be adopted by the Federal Government and other states of the federation, to make life meaningful for disabled people.
He also lauded the Lagos State Government for its efforts in ensuring inclusive infrastructure delivery as well as its achievements in other sectors to make life worth living for PWDs.
Garbadeen called for partnerships between government and humanitarian organisations, to give assistance to less privileged people in the society.
In a speech he delivered earlier at the party, Garbadeen said that every normal human being with functional organs stood a chance of becoming disabled, noting that God in His wisdom had control over who would become disabled.
He stressed that the issue of disability should be a concern for everyone to ensure that the welfare of those God allowed to be disabled were catered for by their compatriots who were not disabled.
“Disability is not a test for the disabled but a litmus test for the able,” he asserted.
Mr John Yekini, Vice-Principal of the vocational centre, thanked the ECF members for choosing to touch the lives of PWDs.
He expressed his appreciation to the ECF for bringing smiles on the faces of students at the centre.
Yekeni appealed to public-spirited individuals to assist students at the centre, especially those who were having difficulties to pay their tuition at the centre.
“It is on record that ECF members are the first set of people to come to celebrate Christmas with us this year,” he said.
Mrs Demilade Lewis, Executive Secretary of the centre, said that the institution was established to train those who were not born blind at birth but who went blind later in life.
Lewis said that the institution was opened in 1955 and that it had depended heavily on philanthropic gestures for survival.
The high-point of the celebration was different presentations, including drama sketches made by the blind students to entertain guests at the party.
A members of the ECF, Mrs Busola Bello, touched by the drama presentations, made an instant cash donation of N10, 000 to the group.
One of the students, George Osiagu, took to the floor, demanding a tune by Yinka Ayefele. He was joined by other students to dance to the tune.
Gifts were distributed to the students by the ECF members.