The candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) for senatorial bye-election in Lagos East, Mr. Tokunbo Abiru (middle) at a meeting with persons with special needs on the bye-election scheduled to hold on October 31 in Somali, Lagos… Monday

The candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) for senatorial by-election in Lagos East, Tokunbo Abiru Monday said he would promote legislation that would make inclusion of persons with special needs in governance process mandatory in the country.

Abiru, a former Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State, equally promised that if elected on October 31, he would work with other lawmakers in the National Assembly to champion the empowerment of people with special needs if elected.

He made these promises on Monday during a meeting with some persons living with disabilities (PLWDs) in Lagos ahead of the forthcoming senatorial bye-election scheduled to hold on October 31.

At the meeting held in Somolu, Abiru specifically said he would pursue legislation aimed at promoting the well-being and welfare of persons with special needs if elected in the forthcoming poll.

He explained that with the enactment of the 2018 Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, the era of exclusion against persons with special needs “is gradually becoming a thing of the past.”

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He, however, said: “We are at the age of embarking upon well-structured advocacy and systematic lobby to ensure that all provisions of the Act are enforced, observed and accorded with due recognition.

“This may even require the amendment of the Act to introduce provisions that will make mandatory the inclusion of special persons in our governance process and elective offices. I am committed to legislations that will promote the welfare and well being of every citizen with special needs.”

He, therefore, pledged that he would team up with civil society organisations (CSOs) to ensure that you are not excluded from accessing privileges and opportunities that other citizens access without let or hindrance.

Abiru, who retired as the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Polaris Bank Limited on August 30, also promised “to pursue some agenda that will deepen a sense of accommodation of persons with special needs be it in Lagos East or Lagos State.

“Within the mandate of a Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria, I will use the instruments of law-making, law enforcement and policy execution to promote social adaption, inclusion and empowerment of people with special needs,” he said.

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He observed that evidence showed that persons with special needs “are economically disadvantaged and extremely poor not because they are destined to be so, but because there are constrained on the account of their special conditions.”

He said: “I am here to assure you that your condition will no more be a setback for your progress, but a stepping stone to realising your aspirations and dreams. Already, the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) recognises and addresses this challenge.

“For every person with special needs, the Convention promotes the rights to economic empowerment. Nigeria is a signatory of the Convention. With the passage of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018, the federal government has also domesticated the Convention.

“The federal government has committed herself to your economic empowerment in the spirit of the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”

He, therefore, urged concerned stakeholders “to leverage on these legislations to push for the enforcement of your rights to economic empowerment.

“I have realised that economic empowerment is the only effective means through which you can meaningfully fend for yourselves; reduce poverty and provide for your immediate families,” the APC candidate said.

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He added that he would set up an endowment fund that will largely accommodate persons with special needs in Lagos East. He also said he would promote legislations and policies that will institutionalise the empowerment of every person with special needs in the country

Also at the meeting, APC Vice Chairman (Lagos East), Chief Kaoli Olusanya described Abiru as a competent and trusted candidate. He said the candidate gave a good account of himself as former CEO of Polaris Bank by transforming the bank for better service delivery.

Olusanya said Abiru would work for the people of Lagos East with the same character and zeal if elected, saying he would not disappoint. He said Abiru had great plans for people with disabilities and residents in general, urging the people of the district to vote for him.