By Dipo Olowookere
Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, the Governor of Lagos State, inaugurated the Governing Board of the Office for Disability Affairs on Tuesday to manage the N500 million Disability Trust Fund.
The Governor expressed optimism that it would aid people living with disabilities in the state realize their dreams and live a more comfortable life.
Mr Ambode, who spoke at the Lagos House, Alausa, while inaugurating the Board, said it was in fulfilment of his administration’s promise to ensure that the affairs of people living with disabilities is managed by people passionate enough to show that there is ability in disability.
Describing the development as another milestone in his commitment to run an all-inclusive government, the Governor said the Board will, on behalf of the State Government, manage the affairs of people living with disabilities by issuing guidelines for their education, social development and welfare.
“The Board will also manage the Disability Trust Fund. In fulfilment of the promise I made on May 29th, 2016, this Fund has in its kitty today, N500m with a marching order to solicit from the public and other charitable organisations, additional support for its objectives.
“We could not have done otherwise, given the array of people with disabilities who possess requisite qualification, experience and character.
“In addition, we believe in their ability to manage the Disability Trust Fund more judiciously because they have a more personal understanding of the needs and situation of our less privileged people. This fund will give our brothers and sisters a needed boost to make a livelihood for themselves and a chance to fulfil their potentials,” the Governor said.
The Governor, however, assured that notwithstanding the N500million Trust Fund, people living with disabilities are still eligible to access the N25billion Employment Trust Fund (ETF).
Governor Ambode, while congratulating the members of the Board, tasked them to ensure that the principles of transparency, accountability, inclusiveness and fairness are observed in administering the Fund and coordinating all affairs concerning people living with disabilities.
“It is my belief that the fund should provide infrastructure and facilities required by needed parties to also complement the efforts of our administration,” he said.
Earlier, Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, said that people living with disabilities have the same right as everyone else, noting that with proper planning, a person with special needs can have a more fulfilling, healthier and enjoyable life, hence the fulfilment of the Governor’s promise of the N500million fund to take care of people living with disabilities.
“This is an important step towards scaling up efforts to address disability inclusion and further strengthen the fact that social exclusion of persons living with disabilities is unacceptable in the face of economic and social progress in the state”, Akinbile-Yusuf said.
In his vote of assurance, Chairman of the Board of Trustee, Office For Disability Affairs, Dr. Oki Olabodunrin Waheed, thanked the Governor for reposing confidence in him and his team, just as he assured that they would discharge their duties conscientiously.
Other members of the Board are Leila Omawumi Atake, Rose Ekaete Mordi, Abdulwahab Matepo, Deaconess Adedoyin Beyioku-Alase, Dr Adebayo Adebukola Shehu, Biola Liadi, Bada Emmanuel Oladipupo, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, representing the Ministry of Youth and Social Development; and Dr Babatunde Awelenje.
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