Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State on Wednesday presented financial grants, assistive technologies and mobility aids to 2,000 people living with disabilities to facilitate their contributions to the state socio-economic development.
Ambode had on May 29, 2016, set up the Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs) Empowerment Fund with N500 million for their welfare.
Ambode said that the presentation was a clear evidence of a promise kept by his administration to ensure an all-inclusive government in which no individual or group would be left behind.
The governor was represented by his deputy, Dr Idiat Adebule, at the ceremony where various items including Assistive Devices, Vehicles and Empowerment Grants were presented to the PLWDs in Lagos.
”Today, we are witnessing presentations of vehicles, equipment and empowerment funds to the first set of beneficiaries to enable individuals, homes and NGOs of PLWDs to take charge of their future.
”Our focus is to move away from the previous charitable orientation of empowerment toward a more socially and economically-oriented approach to make PLWDs become wealth creators and employers of labour.
”This is the first phase and there will be more for those who have yet to benefit from the fund.
”Also, 250 PLWDs will soon receive letters of employment into the state civil service, local governments and Local Council Development Areas,” he said.
Ambode urged corporate organisations and well-meaning individuals to partner with the state government by contributing generously to the fund to ensure continuity of the initiative.
He also urged the PLWDs to be strong, make judicious use of the items and funds, work hard and be dedicated to their enterprises.
According to him, their success will go a long way in changing the perception of those who are sceptical about their abilities.
In her remarks, Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, the state Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, said that the empowerment was to enhance their productivity in the society.
“It will also ensure that their rights and interests are protected and promoted through policies and programmes of the state government,’’ Akinbile-Yusuf said.
Also, the General Manager, Lagos State Office of Disability Affairs (LASODA), Dr Waheed Oki, commended the governor for his care for the PLWDs.
Oki said that it was a practical demonstration of the governor’s government of inclusion.
Rev. (Sis.) Jane Onyeneri, the Administrator, Pacelli School for the Blind and Challenged Children, Surulere, who got a 30-seater-bus from the governor, expressed excitement over the gift.
Onyeneri, in an interview with our correspondent on the sidelines of the programme, said, ”I am so happy today.
“I have over 435 blind and challenged students and taking them out for events such as competitions and field trips have been a very big problem.
”But with this bus, it will be easy to take them out for functions and we appreciate the governor for his kind gesture,” she said.
Also, Mr Muyiwa Majekodunmi, the Administrator, Down Syndrome Foundation, told NAN that the governor had attended to their dire need by providing the foundation with 60 Magic White Boards.
”In the last two years, we have been planning to acquire Magic White Boards and Magnetic Boards for our children in the foundation, but finance has always been the issue.
”Getting these gifts from the governor come to us as a surprise and we promise to make good use of the boards,” he said.
Our correspondent reports that 350 wheel chairs were presented to persons with spinal cord injury, 25 computer sets and Laptops to persons with hearing impairment.
Also, 500 white canes were presented to persons with visual impairment, while a Braille Machine was given to the Nigerian Society for the Blind.
Others were 10 Accessible Desktop Computers with Jaws Screen Reader, 20 Tactile Metric Sets and 100 Taylor Frames.