Tuesday, December 10 was a day of celebration and fanfare for persons with disability in Nigeria, as Project Enable Africa and Hacey Health Initiative recognised the achievements and awarded a number of persons living with disabilities at the DIAL Awards.
Supported by Google, Access Bank and the U.S Consulate, the Disability Inclusion And Leadership (DIAL) Awards was put together by Project Enable Africa, a non-governmental organisation providing transformational IT skills to persons with disabilities in Nigeria, in Collaboration with Hacey Health Initiative.
The maiden edition, which held in V/I, Lagos had in attendance personalities like the First Lady of Lagos State, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, who was ably represented by Dr. Olufunke Olayinka; women’s rights activist, Joe Odumakin; Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate, Russell Brooks; Deputy Commissioner of Police, Commander, RRS, Tunji Disu, among others.
In her welcome remarks, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, President, Women Arise for Change Initiative and the Chairperson of the event said, “the core advocacy message of Project Enable Africa touches on inclusive means towards a peaceful and prosperous world, where dignity and equality for all is a fundamental principle.”
Going further, she explained that, “It is important to note that building an inclusive society goes beyond preparing persons with disabilities for the workspace or providing them with skills, which sincerely is laudable like Project Enable Africa is already going. But more importantly, it is also important to get members of the public ready to receive persons with disabilities and begin to see them as an integral part of the society, and that’s part of the goal of this gathering.”
Odumakin also reminded those in attendance that it is the collective responsibility of everyone to call for national attention to the implementation of the Nigerian Disability
Also speaking at the event was Olusola Owonikoko, project director and founder of the initiative, who said, “Nigeria has come a long way, especially for having the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act of 2018. However, I think that is just a step in the right direction. There is still a lot to be done especially in the implementation of persons with disabilities Act. Government has to go beyond ‘something we wish to do’ to ‘something we have to do’. As a country, we are not disability-inclusive and we are not going to achieve sustainable development goals because its biggest promise is to leave no one behind. If we leave persons with disabilities behind, then we are not developing or progressing. So the government has to do a lot more in implementing across sector for the private and public sector. The government itself has to be an example by making sure it is in compliance with what the disability bill says.”
In a goodwill message, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu congratulated the board, management and the entire team of Project Enable Africa for the successful hosting of the event. She equally commended the team for the laudable work of promoting digital inclusion and advocacy for persons with disabilities in Nigeria.
She further said that the Disability Act is in sync with the commitment of the Lagos State Government to run an inclusive administration in which no one is left behind. She went on to highlight a number of initiatives by the Lagos State Government to support people living with disabilities while promising that more will be done on a massive scale by the current administration. She also called on other private individuals and initiatives to emulate Project Enable Africa.
Among organisations who took home awards were Access Bank, Greensprings Schools, AIT, Sight Savers, United States Agency for International Development – USAID, Lagos State, Irede Foundation and a few other deserving people.