Olaide Oluwatele is not just a blind man. He is one with a difference. With about 17 people in his employ, he contends that disability is not a passport to begging. Dayo Emmanuel examines his world
Though blind, Dr. Olaide Oluwatele is not one that will submit to self-pity. He has learned to live with his condition and has also gone a step further to do what most people with sight find difficult to do.
He is an entrepreneur of excellence and has in his employ about 17 able people who work day and night to earn their pay from him. “Disability is not a passport for a beggarly life.” He said with a tone of confidence during a session with a Church Times reporter.
Olaide, who became blind at 17 is obviously living proof that there is ability in disability. In his words “when I suddenly became blind and my parents sought help from all quarters without success I was advised to come to Oshodi where I will earn N500 per week through alms begging.” He recalled
But that was not to be as God in His mercy turned the situation around for him. Rather than beg, she met one Mrs. Mojisola Abdul who introduced her to Federal School for the blind where he learned basket weaving. Upon graduation, the woman gave her N2,500 to rent a shop where he practiced his trade and improved upon his skill.
Since then his life has not remained the same again. Olaide who now runs a training centre for disabled people in Lagos however did not stop at that as he proceeded to the US thereafter to pursue further studies culminating in a doctoral degree.
He is presently the founder and President of the Competent Handicapped Industry and Vocational Training Centre, Lagos, an organisation that seeks to better a lot of handicapped people in Nigeria.
“Handicapped people are not lazy and useless, but the government in Nigeria treat them like dirt”, he lamented, adding that “if given enabling environment and support, there is no limit to what the government can benefit from the so-called disabled people in Nigeria.”
He listed transportation, housing, and medical facilities as challenges facing disabled persons. His organisation has however gone ahead to proffer solutions to the transportation challenges of disabled persons in Nigeria with the procurement of commercial buses.
With a fleet of commercial buses to convey disabled people free of charge, Olaide and his organisation have helped to ameliorate the transportation challenges of the handicapped in Lagos State. “We started with five vehicles, later we got 15 and we told our drivers not to charge disabled persons who are with our identification cards, we also help the handicapped convey their