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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Being disabled is a lonely, scary, isolated place -Ex-Gov Daniel’s son

Wheel-chair-bound Debola Daniel, a son of an ex-Governor of Ogun State Gbenga Daniel, has lamented what he described as “vile discrimination” he suffered at the outlet of an international eatery, KCF, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

He also used the opportunity to say that being disabled is a lonely, scary, isolated place to be.

Debola expressed his dismay in a long series of tweets via his X [formerly Twitter] handle Cub of the West @DebolaDaniel.

He had tweeted:

The vile discrimination I faced today at one of these global fast food restaurants, I don’t think I can find the words, but I will search for them because enough is enough.

Being disabled often rolls over my spirit, leaving behind a trail of shattered dignity and forgotten humanity. Nowhere more so than in Nigeria.

I have never been the type of person to make a fuss or complain about my disability. My approach has always been “laissez faire”. Ultimately, it is what it is. It is a part of my identity and like everyone else, I have my days of self doubt and confusion as to how/if I fit in society.

To be a disabled in nigeria is to be undesirable, unwelcome and unaccepted. As I’ve said before, it’s a lonely, scary and isolated place.

Never has this been more true than it has ever been today where I faced the worst sort of public humiliation that I have ever experienced. To think that this happened at an international brand @kfcnigeria at an international airport – Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos – is unthinkable.

I arrived at the airport as normal for my Virgin Atlantic flight to London. I’m a frequent flyer and I’m extremely familiar with all due processes at Murtala Muhammed Airport. Years ago, after all security and immigration formalities have been completed, I would normally go to the OASIS lounge to wait for my flight.

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For the past 3 years, the lift to the lounge has been out of service so I’ve often found solace in other establishments, sometimes lounges, sometimes restaurants such as
@kfcnigeria.

Today I chose KFC – what a colossal mistake. I entered the restaurant with 4 other travel companions consisting of my brothers and wife. The security personnel at KFC, Samuel, greeted me by name as I’ve been there multiple times. Just as we were about to sit, the lady at the till – who was apparently the manager – called out loudly, “NO WHEELCHAIRS ALLOWED”.

Our group paused in confusion, before my brother, Taiwo, asked what she meant. She refused to listen to reason and stood her ground that at @kfcnigeria Murtala Muhammed branch, wheelchairs and wheelchair users of all shapes and sizes were not permitted in the premises and we should leave immediately.

My siblings and wife became instantly irate and proceeded to debate her position with her, ultimately cumulating in raised voices and strong verbal protests. If there’s one thing I hate more than anything in this life is to create a scene. I detest it. I do not like to draw attention to myself and as such I began pleading with my people that we should just leave.

My wife took some video footage and my brothers took some pictures. There were at least 5 other witnesses at the scene, who tried to intervene as things unfolded. Eventually our party departed to another lounge upset and quite frankly pissed off.

Normally I would let these things slide but not today. When calmer heads prevailed, my wife and brother – Mayowa – went back and under the guise of buying some food and while audio recording, she questioned the lady again and the lady reiterated her position that the business does not allow wheelchairs into their premises.

She stated that although she recently just transferred to that branch, it is something that has been drummed into them. NO WHEELCHAIRS ALLOWED.

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It harkens back to dark periods in recent history…

No wheelchairs allowed…
No coloureds allowed….
No blacks allowed…

Today I felt less than human, like a guard dog not allowed into the house. Lonely and isolated.

I will continue to escalate this exponentially until I get a reasonable resolution and there’s no stopping me. You cannot treat people this way. There are approximately 27 million Nigerians living with some form of disability. That’s over 13% of the country. 1 in 6 people on the planet are disabled. You MUST NOT treat people this way.

So my question to @kfc is simple. Does this represent your approach to disabled customers or will you be looking into this? Am I not human enough for KFC?

The Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria has since sanctioned the eatery and has also ordered it to tender public apologies for its action.

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