By Emmanuel Oluwadola
Things have been very difficult for me ever since the fuel subsidy was removed in Nigeria. Because it led to a hike in the price of goods and services. Now, I eat once a day, sometimes, twice. I find it very hard to afford three square meals per day due to the economic hardship. It is a hard time, especially for non-working persons with disabilities.”
The above are the words of Daud Abdulmajeed, a visually impaired graduate after he returned from the day’s struggle. He was worried because now, he could barely take care of his daily needs as a result of the harsh economy. According to him, the recent development in the country is affecting People With Disabilities more. He said he could not imagine how other PWDs are surviving at this time.
“Things did not get worse for me only because of the assistance of God and well-meaning persons”. He said. Abdulmajeed believed that if the government could employ some of the PWDs into the civil service structure, the rate of unemployed PWDs would be reduced and life would be more comfortable for them without necessarily waiting on the government for survival. “We want the government and philanthropists at this time to really come to the aid of PWDs, especially for those that are not working.
“We always listen to the news and we hear about the palliatives. It is a good step by the government. We must not be left out. As a person, I have not received anything up till now,” he said. Similarly, Aribo Orowole, a physically challenged student at Adekunle Ajasin University, AAUA, thought everything was fine until the items she needed for resumption were reduced due to the exorbitant price of things.
Her words, “The amount of my food stuff reduced, things were not just sufficient unlike before.
“Price of transportation even delayed me from resuming school on time. Things are not smiling at all.” She, however, said that empowerment or employment will go a long way in helping people with disabilities ride over the problems ravaging the county now. “Also, my advice is that whatever and however people may think they can help people with disabilities during this period, they should kindly do that. No matter how small, it will be appreciated,” Orowole noted. Government should consider us for palliative scheme.
The Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Association of the Blind, Ondo State chapter, Nasirudeen Oladele said his daily experience now was not palatable following the economic downturn. “To survive, I had no choice but to manage the things l have,” he stated. Oladele condemned the hike in prices of both imported and locally made products, and food items, stressing that it was posing more challenges to people with disabilities. “I want to urge the government both at the local, state and federal level, that PWDs should be considered for the palliative scheme.
Like they are planning for some groups, the government should involve PWDs and it should be done through the right channels such as the Joint Association of Persons With Disabilities or the Agency of People With Disabilities. With that, it will get to the right quarters of the needy. “The PWDs should be included with those who will be given palliatives because PWDs are one of the most vulnerable groups, these are things that can ease our pain at the right time,” he said.
Another student with disability, Olorundare Ifeoluwa from AAUA said some parents, workers, and PWD sponsors are now struggling because of the present hike of things. “Since the fuel subsidy removal started, it has not been easy for both parents and students, even for workers because it was not that they increased their salaries. However, my advice to everybody is that we should tighten up our belts and manage our resources. Government should come in for PWDs and know our needs, if not all, at least a good percentage of it. Honestly, the experience now is not palatable. The increase in everything is alarming. Some sponsors who are paying PWDs school fees are struggling now because some school fees have tripled.
This will reduce the number of PWDs who will have access to sound education. Government should try to regulate things,” she said. As far as Ogundijo Ibukun is concerned, he had never experienced this hard moment in his life as a PWD. He said eating three square meals per day is not possible anymore because of the high cost of things. “What I will advise the people with disabilities is that we should not keep quiet. We should let the government know that living for us is very difficult at this time. I will advise the government to empower PWDs and also consider us in the palliative they are sharing to cushion the effect of subsidy removal,” he said.
Ridwan Adegboye, a virtually impaired person, shared that the current economic hardship has negatively impacted his well-being and the situation got worse due to his eye condition. “Where I usually take a bike to with just 200 and I will reach the exact place I am going, now it has increased to N500 or N600. Cabs will not take me to the exact destination, so it leads to another stress. I will have to use my cane guide to navigate my way.
“This time and even beyond, governments have a very important role to play in the well-being of People With Disabilities. And about the distribution of palliative, they should also give them to the right channels. PWD education is very expensive, so government should have passion for our education and know exactly what we need to succeed,” Ridwan hinted.
Speaking with the Hope, the Ondo State Board Chairman, Agency for the Welfare of People With Disabilities, Princess Arises Folashade said People With Disabilities are people who need help for life sustainability.
“People With Disabilities are special people without sight, hands, legs, hearing, etc., as a result, they are vulnerable and need help for life sustainability. Even before the dwindling of the economy of the country, there is a need to assist these special people to become self-reliant. Now that the economy is bad, there is the need to assist them more because with the present economy, even those who are not disabled, need help to survive,” she said.