International Wheelchair Day and the Disability Community in Kogi State

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International Wheelchair Day and the Disability Community in Kogi State

By Hon. Ibrahim D. Arome

On March 1st, people around the world observe International Wheelchair Day. This day is marked with special commemoration event to celebrate wheelchair users across the country who truly are champions and heroes given the difficult circumstances under which they navigate their lives, and also to applaud and commend their benefactors, individuals and corporate entities, care-givers, Civil Society Organizations, Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs), and Government agencies who have empowered wheelchair users in Nigeria, over the years.

The International Day of Wheelchair Users was founded in 2008 by Steve Wilkinson, who was born with Spina Bifida and has used a wheelchair for most of his life. He has always pursued life with a ‘can-do’ attitude, and grew up dreaming of making a difference in other peoples’ lives. He founded the day to “make the world more accessible for other wheelchair users and people who have non-standard needs. The Day also affords the opportunity to raise awareness for the millions of people around the world in need of a wheelchair, but unable to access or afford one.

In Kogi State, it is estimated that around 15% of the population lives with some form of disability. Persons with impairments make up a significant proportion of our population. However, many disabled individuals in Kogi State lack access to wheelchairs or other mobility aids that can allow them to navigate their environments and live independently.

A key barrier to wheelchair access in Kogi is the high cost of purchasing wheelchairs. Most wheelchairs are far too expensive for the average family to afford, especially given the high rates of unemployment and poverty among the disabled population. Public provision of wheelchairs is limited, and long waiting lists mean that many in need are left without mobility aids.

The inaccessible terrain and infrastructure in many parts of Kogi also pose daily obstacles for wheelchair users. Unpaved roads, lack of ramps, and crowded public transportation make it challenging for those with mobility limitations to get around. Poor accessibility forces many wheelchair users to rely heavily on family members or others for assistance.

On International Wheelchair Day, more effort is needed to increase awareness and improve wheelchair access in Kogi State. The government must prioritize funding and policies to make wheelchairs more affordable and available. Public infrastructure and facilities should be upgraded to remove barriers for those with disabilities. And more organizations that provide wheelchairs to those in need should be encouraged.

With greater wheelchair access, people with disabilities in Kogi State can gain more independence and fully participate in their communities. As we mark World Wheelchair Day, let us renew our commitment to a Kogi State where all people have the freedom of mobility.

Happy International Wheelchair Day!

Hon. Ibrahim Daniel Arome
Immediate past Board Chairman KOSODA

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