The most beautiful thing in the world cannot be seen or even touched; they must be felt with the heart. Same goes with the disability community in Anambra. Thus, the Office of the Governor on Disability Matters, on behalf of the community, heartily expresses profound gratitude to Governor Willie Obiano (Ogugua Ndi Olusi) for yet another demonstration that Anambra remains the light of the nation.
It is gratifying and indeed heartening that few days to Christmas, Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano has established Disability Rights Commission to oversee the issues of the persons living with disabilities in the state. The governor has also appointed members of the disabilities group into the commission in accordance with the section 4(1) of the Disabilities Rights Law. The commission, as expected, functions as a corporate body empowered by the Disabilities Rights Law to implement the provisions of the law and its establishments.
No doubt, the approval of the commission is another milestone of Governor Obiano administration in the state. It is cheering that Akopkuedike has always had amazing and sustainable Christmas gifts to the Disability Community since the inception of his administration.
It could be recalled that on December 18, 2018, Sir Willie signed into law, a bill for the protection of the rights and welfare of persons with disabilities, even before the federal government did that, making Anambra state the only state in the South East to have such legislation for PWDs.
Then, in December 2019, Omemgbeodiuko of Igboland gave approval for the inclusion of a special choir, consisting of Persons with Disabilities to perform at the state Carol of nine lessons, where their performance mesmerized the entire state and the world.
Again, in December 2020, despite the economic crunch and recession, occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the #EndSARS protests in the country, Governor Obiano approved the employment of over 120 persons with disabilities into to the state civil service. He also gave approval for the establishment of the disability rights law implementation committee.
Many projects of the governor have been far enriching to the disabilities community. Public buildings are becoming disability-friendly as private sectors now join the train in making sure that persons with disabilities have accessibility in all public and private buildings. Oguguo Ndi Olusi made sure this year that his legacy projects are handicapped-friendly.
Obiano made sure that the Anambra International Convention Center, Awka Stadium and the Anambra International Cargo and Passenger airport are accessible and friendly to the persons with disabilities, having co-opted members of the disability community into the committee for the construction of the projects to ensure handicap accessibility.
Anambra is the only state that appointed a Special Adviser on Disability Matters, who is equally a member of the State Executive Council. Governor Obiano also set up the Office of the Governor on Disability Matters (OGDM), which serves as a middle man between the Government and the disability community. Anambra is also the first state to make a visually impaired and other people with special ability Permanent Secretaries.
As if all those were not enough, Omemgbeodiuko also employed the services of five sign language interpreters of which one of them is deaf to ease communication for the deaf. He equally appointed a Special Assistant for Sign Language. He made a physically challenged person an Executive Assistant to the governor on disability services. So far, over 200 persons with disabilities have been offered employment by the Obiano administration. It is safe to say that it is indeed a new Dawn for PWDs in Anambra State.
We appreciate the uncommon show of benevolence and support by the Governor to persons with disabilities in the state who took the pains to acquire academic qualifications and now are being empowered with sustainable means of livelihood.
Relevant authorities in all states and local government areas across the country should toe the path of Governor Willie Obiano, Oguguo Ndi Olusi, Omemgbeodiuko to ensure equal treatment and participation of people with disabilities across Nigeria. We pray that God continues to bless Governor Obiano and His wife (Osodieme). Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year!
WRITTEN BY BARR. CHUKS EZEWUZIE