By Emmanuel Elebeke
For the physically challenged in Lagos State, the 25th anniversary of theÂ Committee for the Disabled (CODISA) will remain evergreen in their minds.
Never in the last 25 years had physically challenged persons been so celebrated. In the country today, little or no attention is paid the physically challenged, but thanks toÂ CODISA, in its tradition of showing love decided to raise the bar this time around, if for nothing, at least to encourage the physically challenged that someone cares.
Beyond the wining and dining, CODISA considered it necessary to tap from the wealth of knowledge by assigning major church service functions to the blind and other disabled persons at the special anniversary church service in their honour.
The unusual performances and sacred roles in Church worship,Â were probably responsible for the unprecedented turnout out of personalities in the likes ofÂ Managing Director, AIICO Insurance Plc, pioneer Chairman of the Association, Pro. Gabriel Odia, High Court Chief Judge and other egg heads who ordinarily wouldnâ€™t have gathered under the same roof with the downtrodden in the society.
In a valedictory speech, Odia who described CODISA as a mustard seed that had over grown its original set targets andÂ thanked God for sparing their lives to witness another celebration. Equally delighted by the success story ofÂ CODISA in bringing to reality its dream on the lives of the physically challenged, he said: â€œ It is a thing of joy to reach this milestone. When we started, we never thought it will expand and metamorphosed into this big.
â€œToday, it has expanded beyond our vision. All we are asking Nigerians is to encourage this class of people among us and keep a good relationship with them and support them at the same time, because it is not their own wish to be the way they areâ€
Chairperson of the Association, Mrs. Dele Awere who went down memory lane, expressed gratitude to God. She saidÂ the celebration described as â€œAbility Dayâ€ started in 2005 to enable the physically challenged to showcase their talents, willÂ no longer take back stage in the scheme of things, but nowÂ compete in events with the regular children doubts that in deed, there is ability in disability.
She however, called for more support from members of the public to help affect lives positively andÂ Â lamented shortage of fund as major constraint militating against the growth of the organisatiion.
â€œFunding is our major challenge. We are limited by shortage of fund,Â but the awareness is getting better. We hope to get new members coming to join us. The need of the physically challenged to day is enormous, education, making the environment conducive for them.
Chairman, Spinal Cord Injuries Association of Nigeria, Obioha Ononubi said â€œIt is an anniversary, whereby CODISA once a year celebrates the physically challenged.Â We have been victims of discrimination. The encouragement is zero.â€
He therefore called on everyone to show love to the physically challenged.