Oftentimes, living with a disability restricts individuals the opportunity to benefit from equality and inclusion, particularly in aspects of inclusive education and health coverage. To put an end to the imbalance, there is an advocacy by civil society organizations to implement Social Protection Policy (LSSPP) in Lagos to tackle associated challenges. It has been estimated that Nigeria has over 21 million persons with disabilities, and it is necessary that they feel a sense of belonging in their community.
Granting persons with disabilities (PWD) a sense of belonging requires that the government establishes various programmes for them. One of such governmental efforts is the sustained and systematic campaign that discusses challenges of people living with disabilities in Nigerian public discourse. Also, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) is contributing its quota through its collaborations with civil societies and government agencies on the social protection policy for accessing available social programmes for all Lagos citizens, including PWDs.
Available health insurance does not cover major ailments.
Chairman of Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB), Lagos State Chapter, and a lawyer, Lukman Bolarinwa Salami, affirmed his knowledge of an existing policy that focuses on social agenda paradigms with the intention of eradicating poverty, while combating other associated social norms and financial barriers. The policy is also expected to provide Lagos citizens with a dignified life through various interventions. However, he added that the provisions of the policy does not cover the interests of all PWDs, but only indigent PWDs.
It was stated that Lagos has a law tagged “Lagos Special Peoples Law”. But research has it that this particular section has no specific policy being implemented by the government to make life less stressful for PWDs. Salami said that in 2021 health insurance was given to 10,000 indigenes of Lagos and a specific number allotted to PWDs by the Lagos State government. However, he noted that only common ailments like malaria, blood pressure management and typhoid were covered, rather than major ailments like physiotherapy and speech hazards.
LASODA, accused of not carrying out its responsibilities diligently.
Regarding education, he revealed that many people living with disabilities have cultured themselves to adapt to any environment they are in the tertiary institution. PWDs mostly proffers solutions to overcome their own challenges, without awaiting the government. He added that some PWDs in Lagos said they know nothing about Lagos State Social Protection Policy (LSSPP). An assessment was also made of the Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA) which is responsible for ensuring the rights of all PWDs in Lagos by protecting them from discrimination while granting equal rights opportunities.
According to Salami, LASODA has woefully failed PWDs. Although the law affirms that the office is to perform 19 functions either singlehandedly or in partnership with other ministries and agencies, the lawyer stated that PWDs cannot highlight any of these functions that has been successfully achieved and has impacted them positively. In his defense, the General Manager of LASODA, Mr. Dare Dairo, stated that the office cannot hold back funds that is meant for PWDs, and that they have been meeting local government officials to improve access to healthcare and inclusive education for them.
Social protection policy must be implemented in Lagos — Ngozi.
Speaking concerning access to social protection policy, former Chairman of Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB), Babatunde Mohammed, claimed lack of awareness to any person living with disability accessing the government’s educational or health programmes. An assistant coordinator of the Child-To-Child/Child Protection Network Lagos State, Ngozi Ekewerike-Okoro, stated that it is a must that social protection policy works in the state. With this, she called for creation of awareness in communities to ask for implementation of the Social Protection Policy.