Lagos State Government on Wednesdayempowered more than 2,000 Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in the Statewith financial grants, assistive technologies and mobility aids, just as it disclosed plans to employ 250 physically-challenged persons into the mainstream of the State and Local Government service.
Speaking at the ceremony, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode,who was represented by his Deputy, Dr. (Mrs.) Idiat Adebule said that the setting up of the Disability Trust Fund and different empowerment programmes for PWDs was in fulfillment of electoral promise to make life worth living for PWDs and support them in realizing their dreams.
Ambode explained that the gesture was aimed at moving away from the charitable model of empowerment to a model that would make PWDs self-reliant and wealth creators.
He urged other physically challenged bodies and individuals who are not captured in the first phase of the gesture to be calm and show understanding with the State Government, adding that more beneficiaries would be captured in the future.
In her welcome address, the State Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf said that the gesture would go a long way in enhancing the productivity of this category of persons and also facilitate their contributions to the socio-economic development of Lagos State.
She maintained that in line with the social inclusion policy of the State government, the administration of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode will continue to ensure that the rights of PLWDs are protected and promoted through relevant policies and programmes.
While noting that the gesture of the State Government had assisted in reducing the menace of street begging in Lagos, the Commissioner urged the beneficiaries to see the empowerment as an opportunity to break away from the shackle of poverty by making judicious use of the grants and other assistive aids provided for them.
“Beneficiaries of this gesture of the State government must imbibe the spirit of giving and contributing to society and see themselves as instruments of positive change”, she reiterated.
She listed some of the items distributed to the selected beneficiaries to include: 1 Hyundai 30-Seater bus for Pacelli School for the visually impaired/Blind, Surulere, Lagos; 1 Hyundai 12-Seater mini bus for Joint National Association of Persons Living With Disabilities (Lagos State Chapter) and 1 Index Express Embosser with Duxbury Braille for Nigerian Society for the Blind among several others.
She added that10 Non-Governmental Organisations dealing with issues of disability in the State will receive N500,000 each as grants while 500 PWDs will also receive N100,000 each as financial empowerment.