The plight of disabled persons in Nigeria has remained a perennial problem. This group of people have continued to get promises from the government that their case is being handled. They are eager to see these promises materialized because they want to enjoy the rights that should accrue to them as citizens.
Ipledge2nigeria met with two ladies in wheelchairs in a bank. They are customers of a top bank in Nigeria. One of them was trying unsuccessfully to access the banking hall through the security access door. She was in the bank to make withdrawals from her account. Unfortunately for her, she had to wait outside the banking hall to be attended to. It took about forty-five minutes for a bank official to come to the premises of the bank where she was waiting to attend to her. She was given the money though but she was sad because she saw other customers going in and carrying out their transactions, while she was outside not knowing when she could get help.
Ip2n tried to take a picture of her as she struggled to wheel in herself into the banking hall but was intercepted by the security men. Ipledge2nigeria also tried to speak with the head of operations at the branch to no avail. Only one of the ladies allowed IP2N to take her picture in the office corridor of the bank.
When IP2N sought to speak with the ladies, the declined but simply expressed their disappointment with the operators of banks in Nigeria. They equally lamented the time they waste any time they approach the banks where they are legitimate customers.
Ipledge2nigeria spoke on phone with the President of Joint Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), Mrs Ekaite Umoh, who bared her mind on the challenges her members really face accessing the bank among other issues.
In her words, “Our members in this country have not been treated well. We have a bill at the National Assembly for 12 years. The successive members of the National Assembly have tried to help but the presidency has always been a bottleneck. From Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to President Goodluck Jonathan, they have all failed us. Right now the bill is still lying there and until there is an enabling law we will not be able to sue the banks. It is for that reason that the banks have continued to turn deaf ears to our request to make the banking hall accessible to our members. The truth is that what they are doing is a gross violation of the rights protecting persons with disabilities. They have our money and they refuse us access to the banks to transact business”
Mrs Umoh said that although one or two of them have done something. “A few of the banks have looked into our issue like First bank. It has widened its security door to give our members access. A lot of other banks are yet to effect changes. We will want them to emulate the First bank. If they have our money, then they should be able to allow us to access their facilities”
The president talked about the various contributions that their members have made in Nigeria, especially in the area of sports. At the just concluded Olympics Games in Rio, Brazil, our members did Nigeria proud, they came back home with medals. It beats me to see the way we are being neglected in this country”
It is he who wears the shoes that knows where it pinches. Mrs Umoh has just reminded the government of it’s responsibilities to her members. December 3rd of every year has been set aside by the United Nations (UN) as the UN Day of persons with disabilities. It is hopeful that as the members of JONAPWD are warming up to join their counterparts across the globe to mark this day, that the government should use the opportunity to also look at ways they can delight them by ameliorating some of their sufferings.