— Demands automatic employment for the disabled
One of the representatives of people living with disabilities at the ongoing National Conference, Akanbi Ayodele, representing the South west, has said that it was “satanic and unreasonable” to deliberately exclude deaf people from the gathering expected to restructure and find solutions to the problems of Nigeria.
Ayodele also noted that persons living with disabilities had not been treated well under President Goodluck Jonathan, saying even the military government of General Ibrahim Babangida had two per cent automatic employment for the disabled.
The disabled delegate said as a matter of policy, certain percentage of employment opportunities should be given to his constituency.
Speaking with Blueprint in an exclusive interview in Abuja, Ayodele, a legal practitioner and an activist, said he has come to the conference with lots of agitations for people living with disabilities.
“Look at the conference for instance. The deaf doesn’t have access to what is going on on the floor of the conference; no sign language interpretation for the deaf. They cannot even contribute even nor can they listen to news, they do not know what is going on the floor. What we are doing here is meaningless as far as the deaf is concerned.
“Let’s start from access in schools. People on wheelchairs cannot enter the classrooms, especially when they get to the university. Although there are primary schools for the disabled, but some of them are not inclusive, there are special schools for the disabled where we enjoy access but as soon as we get to secondary school and university our people do not have access again. So, access is our number one problem. Yet the universities are high rise buildings . It is difficult for persons living with disabilities to have education in Nigeria here.
“Environment is another issue, the environments are not accessible for those of us that are blind and for those of them that are on the wheelchairs.
“Let’s talk of employment, for those of us who have struggled to go to school, we do not have employment. There should be automatic employment for persons living with disabilities. During Babangida’s regime, they came up with a decree, just a decree without policy that they should be giving us two per cent. We do not have that two per cent now, our people living with disabilities still struggle to get employment and that is why we are here”.