August 26, 2016 – Gbenga Daniel’s Disabled Son Debola Daniel: I Started Using Wheelchair At 5, Nigeria Is Hostile To Disabled People
Ex-Ogun state governor’s Gbenga Daniel’s disabled son has begun a foundation to press for equity and fairness to the physically disabled individuals in Nigeria.
In a statement made available to This News, Mr. Adebola reiterated the need to end discrimination against people living with disabilities in the country.
“I was born into a very comfortable home, with both amazing parents and without a disability. However, when I turned 5, I was diagnosed with paraplegia- a rare condition with no medical clarity. I became confined to a wheelchair. Growing up in Nigeria, I unconsciously associated disability to poverty and crime due to amputated beggars on the streets mostly as a result of Sharia Law practiced in the North. This was general opinion of most Nigerians in my social circle as a child.
Having myself become physically challenged, I was exposed to the stigma and assumptions that came with being ‘disabled’. All of a sudden, I was looked at with pity, with judgment and sometimes with resentment by my fellow countrymen. As I became an adult, I began to realise that the onus was on me to make something of myself and create my life and future the way I envision it. My future was, and would always be in my own hands.”
‘Debola, who has a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from University College London is an inspirational speaker with TEDx Talk and founder of the African Youth Initiative.
According to him, Nigeria is one of the most unjust societies for people living with disabilities hence the need to create a movement to seek for not just equity but challenge the mindset of the average Nigerian.
“I see a lack of integration and it saddens me knowing that there is a young disabled Nigerian out there that has the capability to achieve what I have achieved and even surpass me but regrettably, he/she is not being given the adequate support from government and the society.
It is unacceptable that most schools in Nigeria are inaccessible. It is unacceptable that road side pavements are not fit for wheelchairs. It is unacceptable that Shell and other multinationals adhere to strict disability codes in the US and UK but are unable to carry this same principles to Nigeria,” he said.
According to him, the Debola Daniel Foundation will not be a charity organization that will give out wheelchairs and crutches to the less privileged, but rather will challenge government to think of disabilities when formulating policies especially in Education, Employment, Entrepreneurism and Development.
“At the moment, the foundation is working on a social media campaign with information, statistics and policies we support under the hashtag #DisabledNotUnable. A second segment titled #MyStory is being developed too, where the foundation celebrates disabled citizens who have decided that disability is not the end but just a different path. These people have decided to live life rather than being idle,” he added.