By Olawale Abdul-Fatah
This year’s graduation ceremony of Bethesda Home for the Blind became a memorable event after Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, announced immediate employment to a visually impaired lawyer, Ajayi Adedokun.
Sanwo-Olu also directed that the 21 others faced with different disabilities present at the event should forward their Curriculum vitae to his office for possible job placement offer.
The governor, who was at the event which also marks the grand finale of activities to mark the year 2019 International Day of persons with disability on Sunday, urged public and private sectors to increase employment quotas for qualified physically challenged Nigerians.
He made the pronouncement after listening to a passionate speech by Adedokun who spoke on the plight of qualified but physically challenged people while seeking employment.
Adedokun had lamented the inhuman treatment they are daily subjected to while seeking employment even though they are adequately qualified for advertised positions by employers.
The visually impaired lawyer is a fellow of the Nelson Mandela Washington Fellowship did his National Youth Service Corps scheme at the Lagos State Ministry of Justice in the Directorate of Public Prosecution in 2018.
He stressed that it was time Nigerian leaders including him reminded themselves that there is an ability in disability.
Sanwo-Olu said no one should see disability as a liability rather “we should encourage those with one form of impairment or another to realize their full potential in life”.
He stated further that Lagos State Government would continue to collaborate with the private sector to uplift the living standard of the physically challenged citizens.
He said: “we must encourage these students to attain their full potential by ensuring that they get jobs after their studies. We must do more for them both in our individual capacity and as government. On our part, we will partner with the private sector to promote employment inclusion of the visually impaired in our society. It is by doing this, that we will increase the economic base of the physically challenged as well as rid our society of miscreants in our streets.”
The Governor said Lagos State has promulgated a Law that discourages public and private sectors from discriminating against physically challenged people in their various organisations, noting that when more physically challenged persons to secure gainful employment; the society will be better for it.
Speaking earlier, Matron of the Home, Folorunsho Alakija lamented the poor treatment of the blind in Nigeria, saying they are faced with several challenges, which hinders their progress in life.
”The major one of which is their partial or non-inclusion in the society. For example, many people still regard the blind as being next to useless, and that no form of training can help them be productive. Even though the sentiments towards the blind have improved over the years, the sense of pity is still prevalent. People may donate, or provide help for their cause, but they may not want to have a blind person in their midst.” Alakija said.
”In fact, it is still difficult to get jobs for the blind. Employers tend to believe that hiring the blind will lead to higher costs and lower profits. However, this has been proven to be untrue as we have many visually impaired people all over the world having successful careers. An example of such is our very own Cobhams Asuquo, an Internationally acclaimed artist, musician, producer, and songwriter who is the Founder/CEO of Vintage Grey Media. He has also produced award winning musicians such as ASA, Banky W, Tiwa Savage and Dare Art Alade to mention but a few.”