The Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB), Lagos State Chapter, has raised alarm that more than 500,000 persons living with disabilities in the state are at risk of avoidable health crises and needless deaths as the lockdown occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic worsens the livelihoods and survival of PLWDs.
The group particularly griped that a vast bulk of persons living with disabilities may never benefit from the free food stimulus program introduced by the Lagos State Government if Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu fails to co-opt disabled persons clusters and Civil Society Organisations as monitors in the palliative distribution process.
According to a press statement signed by Mr. Babatunde Mohammed, Chairman of the Nigeria Association of the Blind in Lagos, “we are deeply worried about recent revelation by Governor Sanwo-Olu that some elements have hijacked the free food program initiated by the state, and the severe consequences this sabotage will bring to persons with special needs in the state.”
While the group lauded efforts by the Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASRRA) for reaching out to PLWDs and the old in the state via text messages, it however raised concerns that a lot of persons with disabilities are yet to receive the food package promised them in the SMS one week after.
“As a matter of fact, majority of PLWDs who received the LASRRA SMS have become frustrated by the failed delivery notices they get each time they tried to respond to the text message,’ the statement read.
“Others who have relocated from their earlier addresses captured in the LASRRA register are also left with no option to supply information about their current location, neither do they have the opportunity to call specific mobile lines for that purpose.”
In reviewing its response strategy henceforth, the group urged the state government to provide each cluster of persons with special needs with the logistics to distribute the stimulus package to their members in collaboration with the Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs especially since each of the clusters (Blind, Deaf, Albinos, Physical etc) have a register of their bonafide members.
“This response strategy, if considered by His Excellency, will have far-reaching positive impact on disabled persons in the state in the long run, compared to the initial strategy where the Joint National Association of Persons With Disabilities (JONAPWDs) in the state was given 100 food package to share among a disabled persons community numbering over 500,000,’ the statement read.