Abia gov’s wife donates 100 walking sticks to blind persons
The wife of Abia governor, Priscilla Otti, on Tuesday, donated about 100 white canes to the visually impaired in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the canes were distributed during a ceremony organised to mark this year’s International White Cane and Safety Awareness Day in the state.
The day is observed globally on every October 15, to create awareness on the significance of the white cane as a tool of independence for the blind.
The State Government, however, rescheduled the celebration for October 31.
The event, which was organised by the state chapter of the Nigeria Association of the Blind, in collaboration with the Office of the Governor’s Wife and Ministry of Women Affairs, started with a road walk, followed immediately with a seminar at the ministry’s secretariat.
In a speech, the governor’s wife told the beneficiaries that the white cane “symbolised independence and embodies resilience and determination for them to navigate a world that often remain hidden to them”.
Mrs Otti, represented by a Special Assistant on Women Affairs to the governor, Chinwe Onyeukwu, said that the government was committed to the full implementation of the state Disability Law.
“I’m also bringing you this assurance that the Disability Commission is going to be fully implemented and there is going to be an enforcement of that law,” she said.
Also, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Ngozi Felix, said that persons with visual impairment face numerous barriers to their full inclusion and participation in community life.
Mrs Felix commended Gov. Alex Otti and his wife for promoting and advocating equitable access to public service for persons with visual impairment as well as building their capacities.
The commissioner, therefore, called on major stakeholders in society to create a conducive environment for the people to have equal access and enjoy socio-economic and political benefits that accrue from the developmental processes.
The special assistant to the governor on Persons with Disabilities, PWDs, David Anyaele, said that the global celebration was a demonstration of the significance of mobility to the blind community.
According to Mr Anyaele, white cane symbolises movement, direction, solidarity, inclusion and participation in society.
The PLWD chieftain, who said that the 100 white canes were donated based on the association’s request, thanked the governor’s wife for her kind gesture.
The special assistant to the governor on Vulnerable Groups and Poverty Alleviation, Ifeoma Thomas, said that the occasion signified inclusion and equal access.
Mrs Thomas charged the PWDs not to allow anyone to look down on them, irrespective of their circumstance, but to put their skills and talents to fruition in their endeavours.
Earlier in a remark, the state chairman, Nigeria Association of the Blind, Mr Isaac Okwudiri, said that it was the first time the Day was being practically and officially observed in Abia since its creation.
Okwudiri expressed gratitude to the governor for granting the association’s request for the white cane.
He solicited support for the indigent members of the association who, he said, dropped out from secondary school due to the lack of sponsorship.
“We wish to plead with Gov. Alex Otti, to help us replace our set of musical band, which outlived its useful life, and got damaged.
“This is one of the means through which our unemployed youths, who are skilled in this area, help themselves and the association,” he said.
NAN reports that goodwill messages and a paper on the theme: “Removing the barriers that impede the rehabilitation and total independence of persons with visual impairment, were presented at the event.”