Monday, December 7, 2009

Lagos Evicts 3000 Beggars

The Lagos State Government has evacuated 3,000 beggars back to their various states and neighbouring countries in the last nine months.

Special Adviser to Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola on Youth, Sports and Social Development, Dr. Dolapo Badru, disclosed this yesterday at the celebration of the 2009 International Day of Persons With Disabilities in Lagos.

He said that some of the beggars were sent to ECOWAS countries, while others were sent to the northern states and other parts of the country.

According to him, the move was part of government’s programme to re-unite the beggars with their relations so that they can live meaningful lives.

“This government has embarked on rescue exercise to remove beggars and destitute from the streets of Lagos so that they can be reunited with their relations and live a peaceful and prosperous life,” he said.

Badru stated that this act of reuniting them with their relations was better for them, than exposing themselves to the hazards of the environment such as living in uncompleted buildings, under bridges and begging for alms on the streets, where they could be run down by moving vehicles or used for ritual purpose by unscrupulous persons.

The special adviser advised Nigerians from outside the state to discourage their relations, who have one disability or the other, from coming to Lagos to beg for alms, adding that instead of bringing them to beg, they should encourage them to learn vocation of their choices in vocational institutions that abounded in their states.

“The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) cannot be achieved without the full and effective inclusion of persons with disabilities and their participation in all stages of the MDG processes.

“We must see to it that persons with disabilities are empowered with needed skills and training to be able to respond to various challenges and able to live a fulfilled life. We must individually and collectively ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are not trampled upon.

“It is in ensuring justice, equal opportunity and fairness for all that Nigeria and indeed, the world will experience peace and stability,” he stated.

Badru stressed the need to renew commitment to the principles of dignity and justice, equal opportunity and to make sure that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was implemented.

“Globally, almost one in 10 persons is living with disability and recent studies indicate that persons with disabilities constitute up to 20 percent of the population living in poverty in developing countries.

“Many persons with disabilities continue to face barriers to their participation in their communities and are often forced to live on the margins of society,” he said, adding, “they often face stigma and discrimination and are routinely denied basic rights such as food, education, employment, access to health and reproductive health services.  It is now time to give necessary support to persons with disabilities for them to live their dreams.”

The theme of this year’s celebration is: Making the MDGs Inclusive: Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities.

Badru said this year’s theme was timely as the MDGs provided the best available framework for fulfilling the promise by world leaders at the summit in 2000 to spare no effort at freeing people from the abject and dehumanising conditions of extreme poverty.

He added that the MDGs established a unifying set of developmental objectives for global community by bringing together United Nations agencies, governments and civil society around eight key developmental issues.

“It fosters collaborative action to reduce poverty, improve health and address educational and environmental concerns around the world’s most pressing development problems,” he stated.

President, Joint National Association of Persons With Disabilities (JONAPWD), Mr. Adeyemi Okikiade, called for equal opportunities for disabled people in the political arena.

He disclosed that many physically-challenged persons were currently aspiring for political offices at all levels of government, while appealing to political leaders and parties to be ready to accommodate them.

“We implore our political leaders to include persons with disabilities in election management bodies, appointment structures, security and general political appointment.

“We strongly demand that all our governments, corporate bodies, religious and cultural leaders should avoid discrimination against persons with disabilities.   Public perception has been the main challenge confronting persons with disabilities in the society,” he said.

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