Visually Impaired Nigerians Groan As COVID-19 Lockdown Leaves Citizens With Different Tales

Like most Nigerians across the country, the effects of the lockdown put in place by government to curtail the spread of Coronavirus have also left persons with visual impairment with various tales to tell.

While some able-bodied persons have managed to get items distributed as palliatives to cushion the hardship occasioned by the lockdown of the economy, visually impaired individuals have mostly been on the receiving end, according to findings by SaharaReporters through interactions with persons in this category.

Expressing her frustration at the situation, Omolara Daniel, a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow, told SaharaReporters that it has been a tough period of survival especially following the lack of necessary support from government and their agency to cater to the needs of those of them with visual impairment.

She said, “Last week, government officials came to Ikorodu to distribute some items but I was not able to get anything.”

Since returning from the fellowship in the United States, Daniel has been without a job despite completing the mandatory National Youth Service Corps programme in 2018. 

The situation has made life more difficult for the young lady and her husband, who is also visually impaired, to survive the hardship brought by the lockdown of the country.

It is a similar story for Taiwo Amao, who also did not get any of the items distributed by some government officials to Ikorodu residents to withstand the hardship brought by the lockdown. 

He said, “They came to Ikorodu last week. I was told to come but that place was a bit too far from me. There was no way I could make it down with my condition. They should have made special plans for people like us instead of making things more difficult for us.”

Amao went ahead to tell SaharaReporters that taking care of his four children has now become tougher without any income coming in and support missing from the authorities. 

In Ekiti State, Timilehin, a visually impaired school teacher, told our correspondent that he has been forced to remain indoors while interests pile up on a N300,000 loan he borrowed to establish a centre for after-school tutorials in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

Despite boasting of a Master’s degree in International Relations, the young man earns N30,000 working as a teacher under the government’s Npower scheme.

According to him, his monthly income has added no benefit to his life and now the situation has been compounded by the lockdown of the country due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

He said, “It has been a struggle getting palliatives from government since the lockdown came into force in the state where I live.

“Nobody cares for those of us who cannot see with our eyes. We have been left by government to survive on our own and this is not fair to us.”

Chairman of the National Association for the Blind in Lagos, Tunde Mohammed, told SaharaReporters that the mode of getting aid across to persons with special needs had been uncoordinated.

Mohammed said government initiated the process of making relief items available by verifying the details of persons on the state’s residence database – LASRA, but the strategy was not working well.

According to him, the whole palliative distribution in Lagos has been “clumsy, not properly done and                                               has been a failure”.

He said not up to half of the 300 registered members of the association in Lagos have received any relief support yet.

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