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Avoid political games with the welfare of people with disabilities, warns government advisor

Avoid political games with the welfare of people with disabilities, warns government advisor
Avoid political games with the welfare of people with disabilities, warns government advisor

The Special Adviser to the Ekiti State Government on Special Education and Social Inclusion, Adetoun Agboola, has warned critics not to play politics with the government’s efforts to improve the living standards of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).

This followed complaints from the new leadership of the Joint Association of Persons Living with Disabilities about the welfare of members. But Agboola clarified that the Ekiti State Government, under the leadership of Governor Biodun Oyebanji, has made remarkable progress in improving the lives of People with Disabilities (PWDs).

She said key initiatives include the implementation of the Disability Act, mandatory ramps in public buildings and Ekiti Kete online sign language classes for civil servants and political office holders.

She added that the state has enforced a five percent labor law for PWDs and provided free medical access through the Ministry of Health.

The government, she said, has integrated technology into special schools and established three new special schools for the deaf, blind and physically disabled.

These schools, she explained, have multi-sensory classrooms and therapy rooms, a first for Nigerian public schools.
“Vocational training has been strengthened with new equipment and dedicated teachers, improving both educational outcomes and the quality of life of students with disabilities,” she said.

However, the Chairman of the Joint Association of Persons Living with Disabilities, Ekiti State, Tokunbo Familusi, cited inaccessible buildings and inadequate implementation of the Disability Act as some of the problems.

He called for more jobs, scholarships and extra special schools, especially in rural areas. Familusi also stressed the need for PWDs to be represented in government, and advocated for appointments as board members.

Refuting Familusi’s criticism, Agboola pointed to the state’s inclusive policies such as free primary health care, compulsory free education from primary to secondary education and scholarships for people with disabilities.

She added that the state had made provision for entry into examinations for PWDs during the civil service examination, thereby exceeding the five per cent employment quota for junior cadre posts.

According to Agboola, the government has identified 117 out-of-school children with disabilities, enrolled 74 of them in special schools and made plans for a home for people with serious conditions on 3.6 hectares of acquired land.

Meanwhile, Ekiti State Permanent Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Dr Charles Doherty, also confirmed that 2,307 persons with disabilities, who had registered with the state government, had been enrolled in the government’s free health programme and other initiatives to make life better and easier.