29th June, 2012
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has offered annual scholarships to students of the Nigeria Society for the Blind Vocational Training Centre in Oshodi and support for projects in the school.
He made this promise yesterday while celebrating his 49th birthday with the students.
In his remarks at the occasion, Governor Fashola said the state government would give yearly scholarships to the inmates of the school as a way of showing appreciation to the founders, the Board of Trustees and management of the institution for the selfless service they render to the society.
Governor Fashola said in the last five years, his administration has not only put in place a legislation to protect the physically challenge in the society, it has taken concrete steps to show a consciousness of the needs of the group.
He said the state government had made it mandatory to include ramps and walkways while building hospitals, schools, courts and roads especially for the use of the physically challenged as a matter of law enacted by the government, which sets guidelines about what it should do to give the physically challenged the opportunity to live a useful and fruitful life.
The governor, however, expressed dismay that some of the walkways have been turned to trading posts.
Fashola said the state would continue to enforce the law to check those who fail to comply with the directive to keep the walkways strictly free for the purpose for which they are built.
“It is not the money. It is the consciousness that they have abilities and we support them in living useful and fruitful lives. Therefore, when we build roads, we must have walkways and this is what you see in many of the roads that the Lagos State government is building today; pedestrian walkways to separate them from motorists,” he said.
He warned that the government would soon apply the use of force to stop people trading on the walkways, pointing out that apart from those who do not have cars and the physically challenged; every pedestrian has the right to use the walkways without being hampered by illegal traders.
“Of course, we will proceed to the use of force where people do not comply. But it is voluntary compliance that will take us nearer our destination, he said.
Governor Fashola announced that a board would be inaugurated in the next few weeks in line with the legislation on the physically challenged to be peopled by those he described as “the real stakeholders”, who, according to him, “will take decisions on their own behalf with the support of the Government.
Other plans by his administration to further advance the welfare of the physically challenged in the State, Governor Fashola said, include importing mass transit buses with in-built facilities for the use and comfort of the physically challenged as well as constructing designated and reserved places in motor parks, supermarkets and even airports for them.
“We are inculcating the consciousness in our ministries of Works and the Environment. Whatever that will take you to your desired destination; we will support you as a government. This is the way we can show appreciation for the selfless service you have done here”, the governor said, appealing to the private sector to also contribute inmaking life more meaningful for the physically challenged.
He thanked the Chairman of the Nigeria Society for the Blind’s Fund Raising Committee, Chief Olu Falomo, the Management and staff of the school “for the way they have carried on in spite of the difficult task involved”, noting that they would have chosen to employ their money and time elsewhere but they chose to invest to assist the physically challenged.
Chairman of the Fund Raising Committee and Executive Council Member, Chief Olu Falomo, thanked the Governor and his wife for choosing to celebrate the occasion with inmates of the school, saying the school has existed largely on the goodwill of people like the governor. He disclosed that in the past, both the Federal and the Lagos State Government approved some amount of money as subvention for the school adding, however, that as a result of the inability to pursue the money, the school has not received any of them over a couple of years ago.
Highlights of the occasion were the special birthday song rendered by the school choir and the cutting of the 49th birthday cake by the Governor assisted by his wife, Dame Emmanuella Abimbola Fashola and some of the inmates of the school. The Governor and the First Lady were also conducted round the school by some members of the Executive Council of the Nigeria Society for the Blind led by the Chairman, Mrs Biola Agbaje.