The members of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) Kwara State Chapter, yesterday visited the Senator representing Kwara Central, Dr Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe at his Ilorin residence, to express their appreciation for his unrelenting effort to deepen social inclusion and engender equitable access to quality education through his sponsorship of a bill that seeks the establishment of Federal College of Education (special) Afon, Asa LGA, Kwara State.
The legislative proposal which has since been transmitted to the President for assent was designed to promote inclusive education that guarantees the right to education for all on the strength of equal opportunities and cast aside the discrimination that restricts special people from accessing education to realize their full potential and strengthen inclusive growth.
Speaking through the Chairman of the Association, Comrade Yusuf Bashir, the group commended the lawmaker for his various interventions to improve the general wellness of the people, applauding his sterling attributes which they said underscored his resolve to mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of vulnerable and initiate the integration of people with disability to every aspect of social, economic, and cultural life.
“We are grateful to our Distinguished Senator, Dr Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe who possesses the quality of a humane leader, deep faith, complete confidence, empathy and broad vision which recognizes the vision of freedom, equality and fairness which are the hallmark of progressive leadership style in the state which aim to promote the understanding of the disability issues, and mobilize support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of vulnerable, and to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of people with disabilities to every aspect of political, social, economic, and cultural life.
“Sir, We thank God almighty for having a father in a million, our distinguished Senator who has changed the narrative of what representation entails and for running an inclusive government.
“We appreciate the bringing of Federal College of Education (Special) to Asa LGA while we remain grateful to our father who has seen the beautiful aspect of people with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are likely less to be employed as a consequence; we have less access to social insurance based on employment/empowerment than others which decreases our economic resilience in the current post-Covid-19 context. We are delighted at your various interventions ranging from facilitating Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, equipping Cottage Hospitals and Primary Health Centers across Kwara Central and even facilitating support to University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH).”
While appreciating President Muhammadu Buhari for allotting a 10% quota to persons with disabilities in most federal government empowerment programmes, they pleaded as a matter of consideration for continuous support and more inclusiveness for people with disabilities.
In his response, the Senator appreciated the association for acknowledging his modest effort towards initiating and facilitating interventions that strengthen social cohesion and give every organ of the society a fair sense of belonging.
“I appreciate you for the acknowledgement of our modest efforts towards entrenching the culture of equity in public service. We are committed to supporting, initiating, and facilitating interventions that give everyone a sense of belonging and uphold the canon of fairness to preclude the alienation of any segment of society.
“We are cognizant of the need to initiate measures that protect the rights of persons with disabilities and afford them a platform that enhances their self-esteem and confidence to pursue the desired objective and chart a beneficial cause for themselves.
“This can not, however, be achieved without proper education and that informed our efforts to propose the establishment of an institution that offers a platform for inclusive education that is free of stigmatization and discrimination and enables the people with disabilities, who have been adjudged to be suffering a higher rate of unemployment to be gainfully engaged.
“A mixed learning environment that includes persons with disabilities allows their contributions to be valued and they as well receive adequate support, including individualized support, to facilitate their effective education in addition to the opportunity to acquire life and social development skills.
“We give maximum priority to the welfare of PWDs, and we have always considered them sustainable items during our empowerment program to transform them into an instrument of prosperity and become self-reliant. I purposely appointed someone like you as an aide on disability matters who is also in this gathering to create a connection between us and your association and to as well have adequate access to your special needs.”
While reiterating that the bill has fulfilled the legislative obligations, the lawmaker encouraged the association to enjoin the leadership of the national body to intensify their advocacy by appealing to the President to assent to the proposal given that there are only two such institutions in the country.