Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Lagos State are still struggling to implement the disability law of the state, the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) says.
Mr. David Anyaele, Executive Director, CCD, made the disclosure to newsmen on the sideline of the public presentation of a disability report in Lagos on Friday.
The report is: “Our Lagos, Our Disability Report 2020: An Assessment of Compliance by Public/Private Institutions on Lagos State Disability Law’’.
“ Persons with disabilities (PWDs) have generally been recognised as vulnerable members of the society and have consequently suffered discrimination, stigmatisation, denial of their rights and exclusion from the state planning and development.
“The main focus of this meeting is to make it public, findings of our study, the preliminary report on `Our Lagos, Our Disability Report 2020’.
“CCD with support from Ford Foundation is monitoring compliance of private and public institutions to the provisions of Lagos State Special Peoples Law.
“The study also explored the challenges of the Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA) in implementing the law as well as the social context in which PWDs currently exist in Lagos state.
“ This is the third time we are publishing this report.
“Our findings show that line ministries, departments and agencies of Lagos State are still struggling to implement the disability law of the states,’’ he said.
“For instance, accessibility to public places and their services is one of the major highlighted challenges confronting PWDs in Lagos State.
“ Many of them are facing numerous environmental, institutional and attitudinal barriers in accessing public buildings, private institutions and their public services.
“The current study, which was done this 2020, showed that many of the ministries do not understand their roles and responsibilities.
“The only thing an average MDA understands about the implementation is ramp and we are saying, implementation beyond ramp or access beyond ramp.
“Also, discrimination is pervasive against persons with disabilities that are working in Lagos State.
“Even in government institutions, officials treat people with disabilities with this disdain and it is a worrisome situation for people with disabilities who are working in government offices.’’
According to Anyaele, the major issue, with regards to addressing the challenges of PWDs, is not the absence of laws, but essentially, the enforcement and implementation of the laws.
“Our findings indicate that the Governing Board of Lagos State Office for Disabilities Affairs (LASODA) is yet to be constituted.
“What that means is that the Lagos state governor will struggle much more to implement policies that will benefit people with disabilities.
“However, we discovered that the Lagos State Ministry of Education is doing its best to promote inclusive education but there is a limited number of qualified teachers that can support the process.
“ LASODA is struggling due to its inability to have qualified staff to handle most of their technical works.
“Therefore, there is limited knowledge of the law among peoples with disabilities, including the MDAS,’’ he said.
On some ways to address the situation, Anyaele said: “Our key recommendation includes that LASODA should take measures to work with line MDAs.
“To build capacity on their roles and responsibilities, design strategic framework for implementation of the law in line with specifics that are relevant to MDAs.
“ We also recommended for more awareness creation so that `Lagosians’ will know that it is a criminal offence to discriminate against persons with disabilities.
“They should know what discrimination and stigma are all about because it has been our way of life for centuries, people don’t know when discrimination occurs.
“ We recommended that LASODA be decentralized because having office at Alausa is not enough.
“We also ask that capacity of persons with disabilities be built on their rights and responsibilities, built on areas for capacity, for empowerment programmes and activities.
“This is so that the goal and objective of setting up the law will be actualised,’’ Anyaele said.
Also speaking, the General Manager of LASODA, Mr. Oluwadamilare Ogundairo, said that LASODA was poised to be more committed in protecting the rights and potential of PWDs in the state.
“ There have been several forums where the citizens interact and give feedback to government and this feedback has consistently formed improvements and progress in the governance process and inclusion in disability affairs.
“Going forward, it would be enhanced. This is because LASODA is now going to be more proactive and accessible to the people.
“It is part of the THEMES agenda of the Lagos state government and this is just trying to ensure that persons with disability feel a sense of belonging in that agenda, going forward.
“ We are going to translate the THEMES agenda to people with disability and also how it impacts their life positively,’’ the LASODA GM said.