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‘Life is not rosy in the wheelchair’

By Olayinka Latona

John Foppe, the American who triumphed over his natural disability is testimony that individuals have the capacity to succeed in whatever they choose to do regardless of the challenges.

Foppe, who was born without arms, drives a car and feeds himself today and he has become an encouragement to millions of people who could have resigned themselves to fate.

Like Foppe, Omotayo Ayodeji is confined to the wheelchair. A graduate of Accounting and Management from the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Omotayo is a writer, and an accountant with Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, Lagos State.

Fondly called “Mama T” by members of the Spinal Cord Injuries Association of Nigeria (SPCIAN ), Omotayo tells her story. “I was not born physically challenged, actually, few years ago, I was bubbling with life at the Obafemi Awolowo University.”

The 30-year-old lady, first child of the Ayodeji family and a native of Ondo State said: “I was involved in a ghastly motor accident along Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

“I was coming from school (OAU) where I went to check my final result and it was just few months to my National Youth Service Corps Programme. The accident affected my spinal cord . I was unconscious for four months. Hope was already lost on me.

“My parents thought I would die, but eventually I came back to life, and ever since, they have been spending huge amounts of money on me hoping that I will be able to walk again. This event changed my life as it left me paralysed from the waist down, hence confining me to a wheel-chair.

“My father took me to South Africa hoping that an operation will make me to walk again but the doctor said they couldn’t perform any operation because there was no guarantee I would ever walk again. The only thing they did was to rehabilitate me and make me get use to the wheel chair.”

Omotayo revealed that life has not being rosy on the wheelchair even though she wants, as much a possible, to impart greatly on her generation. She said she only achieved a drop out of the mighty ocean of ideas that is embedded in her. In her words “Staying on wheelchair has not being helping me at all, I want to go out feel the world and the world out there feel me too. I wanted to have an impact on my generation and those coming behind me. But am only able to achieve minor out of all these my aspiration.”

She however gave thanks he accident did not occur during her course of study in the University as she would have not been able to withsatnd the stigma of studying in the wheelchair. She stated: “Man proposes, God disposes.

I thank God that I had the accident after I had completed my course of study and not before because I do not think I would have wanted to continue my course in the wheelchair. When there is life there is hope”. Since I am alive, I hope to get married, and to have my own children one day. I hope to stand on my two feet once again and walk. I hope to achieve all these by the grace of God”

Omotayo’s courage and determination is a any able body women, men or physically challenged who sit at home blaming the situation or circumstances for their personal failures should quickly have a rethink.

However, Omotayo is not alone. Mrs Afolabi Adejoke , in her early 40s is also physically challenged. She was involved in an accident on the same Lagos-Ibadan expressway 26 years ago but has not allow her disability pose a hindrance . Although she had a dream of becoming a lawyer before the accident in 1984, today, she is into beads and multipurpose soap making and is also a fashion designer. Rather than wallow in self pity, Adejoke is fending for herself and family.

“ As you can see nothing is wrong with my brain likewise others here, it is only a lazy person that will not amount to anything in this world, adding that she gott married even while in wheelchair.

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