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Making A Case For The Physically Challenged In Nigeria: Being A Paper Delivered At The International Day For Persons With Disabilities, Thursday 3rd December 2015, By Aiyamenkhue Edokpolo, Chairman, Interim Management Committee, Edo Focus Parliament

By Benin Congress

I am humbled for the confidence reposed in me to give a talk on this very theme in view of my avowed love for your constituency (Persons with Disabilities) and humanity as a whole. It is a well established norm that persons-with-disabilities deserves adequate care, NOT stereotypical looks; they deserves the crucial attention of society, NOT dejection or neglect; they deserve empowerment in the area of academic, vocational and apprenticeship scholarship and incentives for scientific discoveries and research outputs and not acute relegation.

Paradoxically, some Government functionaries and sod organized private sector operators over the years have done little or nothing of note to improve the living standards of the vulnerable members of our society. I take serious exception to politically motivated donations to the less privileged members of our society. I want to see very privileged Nigerians or Edos making life-transforming impacts in the lives of the vulnerable. The Bible counsels us from broadcasting everything we do, I know of a fact that God rewards offerings made of His behalf to the poor; but, His reward for gestures that are unannounced is like a fountain of joy. I wish to most passionately advocate therefore, that whenever we desire to give humanitarian gestures with the orphans, or persons with disabilities, we should do so with humility; so it doesn't look as if the beneficiaries are beggars; after all, the gift items are offerings to God, for which we expect reciprocated blessing from God Almighty.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I implore you to promote peace and tranquility in our society; even as I urge you to rise above pity, and proclaim yourselves in our match towards a new Nigeria. No person or corporate body will help you more than you can help yourselves. For instance, you should sustain the spirit of technical education pursuits; you should take interests in apprenticeships and above all, make a radical case to the legislative arm of Governments in Nigeria on issues that promotes your welfare and gainful sense of belonging.

During my visit to the U.S. last December, I saw clearly marked spaces in car parks reserved for the physically challenged persons and it is unpardonable for anyone to park there, not even the President or Governor can abuse it and go free in the legal radar of the rule of law. There is nothing wrong in jump-starting such agitations by way of civil societies and social cultural entities projecting same to critical arms of Government like the Legislature and Executive. It's appalling to say the least that political elites continue to flaunt their ill-gotten wealth in Nigeria and abroad, instead of supporting the physically challenged, orphans and the mentally traumatized citizens. May I seize this medium to appeal the Senate President to propagate bills or resolutions making it legal for people to adopt orphans with less bottlenecks. Even, Churches and Mosques should learn to adopt orphans and give adequate care, this act is far more pleasing to God than the primitive acquisition tendencies that have become the lot of most religious leaders.

In terms of political leadership with the right willpower, in appointing persons to manage Local Government Councils on caretaker basis, there is nothing wrong in having two physically challenged Edo people as amongst the chairmen. Similarly, there is nothing wrong in having five physically challenged persons amongst the over 20 permanent secretaries in our state. I can go on and on in elucidating on the fundamentals that should strengthen ideal integration and a sense of belonging to our brothers and sisters who are in this challenged-bracket.

Finally, implore you be innovative and push for your relevance in our state and country as indefatigable stakeholders. There is nothing wrong in floating a cooperative society which should be funded adequately by Government and the multinationals. Corporate bodies must as a matter of the constitution promote your welfare in from of corporate social responsibility to host communities. And I want to pledge my sincere solidarity anytime for this struggle. Above all, look up to God, who is able to do all things.

Thanks and God bless you.