By Solomon Umanah
The Akwa Ibom government has re-affirmed its commitment at ensuring the protection and welfare of people living with albinism in the state.
The commissioner for women affairs and social welfare, Dr Ini Adiakpan, who stated this, recently, during the celebration of year 2022 International Albinism Awareness Day in Uyo, said the state government, through the benevolence of GovUdom Emmanuel, had made conscious effort toward the protection and wellbeing of the albinos as part of its policy of inclusiveness in the state.
Adiakpan lauded the governors wife, Dr Martha Emmanuel,for her care and support toward the albinos’ welfare and protection as demonstrated through the sponsorship of skin cancer operation for five albinos by FEYReP last year and several other interventions, and urged the albinos to always adhere to the instructions given to them by medical experts so as to maintain sound health.
The women affairs boss frowned at the discriminatory tendencies perpetrated against people living with albinism in the past, observing that, Gone are those days that the albinos were stigmatized. Now they are not discriminated against or stigmatized any more, and no one should allow them to suffer, adding, parents must protect them. They must be educated because an albino can function anywhere, she maintained.
Adiakpan further stated that in line with the theme, United In Making Our Voice Heard,” the state government had collaborated with Advocacy for Persons with Albinism Network (APAN), in creating awareness over the rights and dignity of people living with albinism as opposed to stigmatization.
She sued for total support from the larger society toward the albinos in the state, stressing, They should be given an enabling environment to survive.
She congratulated the Nene Bassey-led pioneer executive of APAN in the state and the national executive of the Albinos Association of Nigeria (AAN) for their untiring efforts at ensuring unity among the albinos in the state in particular, and the country at large.
Earlier in her welcome address, the president, Advocacy for Persons with Albinism Network (APAN) Akwa Ibom chapter, Mrs Nene Bassey, said the International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD) was declared by the United Nations General Assembly on the 18th December, 2014 to celebrate visibility, strength and inclusion for equality of persons with albinism globally, pointing out that the historic declaration by the UN General Assembly was a confirmation of her organizations focus on albinism advocacy in the state.
Bassey, who expressed appreciation to Governor Emmanuel and wife, Dr Martha Emmanuel, for their care and support toward the albinos in the state, particularly in the sponsorship of the skin cancer operation for five albinos at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State last year, said the albinos family will remain eternally grateful for the gesture.
She equally thanked the commissioner for women affairs and social welfare, Dr Ini Adiakpan, for her untiring support toward the albinos community in the state, pointing out that such demonstration of love had given the albinos a sense of belonging as bona fide indigenes of the state.
She expressed appreciation to all the stakeholders for uniting with them to ensure a hitch-free celebration in line with this years theme, United In Making Our Voice Heard, pointing out that this year’s event marked the maiden celebration of IAAD in the state since its creation in 1987.
In his speech, the national President of Albino Association of Nigeria, Mr Jake Ekpelle, urged the albinos to consider themselves as special people created by God for specific purposes in the world, stressing, “the greatest disservice that anyone could do to himself is to count yourself out of the society, you should be fully involved in the activities that are going on in your communities and not to isolate yourself.”
Ekpelle who commended the state government for accommodating the albinos in the scheme of things in the state sued for continued co-operation and support from the larger society. The occasion featured presentation of safety measures on management of albinism by the resource persons as well as goodwill messages.