By Edet Okpo
Stakeholders and Members of Albinism Association of Nigeria have expressed strong commendations and passed a vote of confidence on Governor Udom Emmanuel for prioritizing the healthcare needs of Akwa Ibom citizenry in general and also enhancing the welfare of their members in the State.
They also described Governor Udom Emmanuel as a reference point in quality and exemplary leadership and public Service in Nigeria, while scoring his administration high in the area of aviation development, Infrastructural renaissance, job creation, quality education and industrialization which have made the State an emerging industrial hub in the African-sub region.
Speaking at the 2022 International Albinism Awareness Day Celebration in Uyo, today, the CEO/ Founder of Albino Foundation and President, Albinism Association of Nigeria(AAN), Mr. Jake Epelle, disclosed that the choice of Akwa Ibom State to mark the global event was informed by the relatively peaceful and excellent ambience which the State is known for globally.
The Albinism President was equally full of gratitude to the Wife of Akwa Ibom State Governor, Dr (Mrs) Martha Udom Emmanuel for using her pet project,Family Empowerment and Youth Reorientation path- Initiative(FEYReP) in sponsoring skin cancer operation for five of their members outside the State, describing the gesture as huge and historic in the history of Albinism in Nigeria.
According to the leadership of Albinism Association of Nigeria, the Pet Project of Akwa Ibom First Lady was creatively designed not only as a stop- gap mechanism, but as an enduring catalyst for influencing the cause of history, setting standard, building lasting legacies and promoting service to humanity.
Jake Epelle who openly apologized to Akwa Ibom State Government on the seeming infractions occasioned by communication gap created between the Albinism Association of Nigeria and chairperson of Advocacy for Persons with Albinism Network, Mrs. Nene Bassey, appreciated the wisdom and magnanimity of Governor Udom Emmanuel through the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Dr. Ini Adiakpan in granting their request to hold the 2022 International Albinism Day in Akwa Ibom State.
Mr. Jake described the Women Affairs Commissioner as a testament of courage, resilience, dexterity, hard work and a progressive rallying point for nembers of Albinism Association of Nigeria in Akwa Ibom State.
” Let me use this opportunity to thank Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, for appointing and assigning Dr. Ini Adiakpan to superintend over the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare. She is a very amiable, intelligent,hardworking, practical, proactive and out-spoken Commissioner. We appreciate her effort in managing the misunderstanding between our National body and the State structure”.
Members said the apology by Mr. Ekpene came as a cooling effect considering the initial fears that the previous misunderstanding between him and leadership of affiliate might throw spokes into June 13, 2022 event.
Earlier in her remarks, Dr. Ini Adiakpan stated that the Akwa Ibom State Government, ably led by Governor Udom Emmanuel, remains very sensitive to the plights and Welfare of Albinos, persons with disabilities and that of the Vulnerable in the State. These she said was easy to see in the testimonies and notes of gratitude by members, the policy and laws made in their favour, and the open door communication they have with government through the ministry.
While calling on the general public not to to stigmatize persons living with albinism, Dr. Adiakpan stressed the need for peaceful co-existence with the albinos, describing them as unique and special creation with abundant endowment by nature.
The women Affairs Commissioner who also acknowledged the encomiums poured on the State Governor by the National Leadership of Albinism Association of Nigeria, reiterated Government’s continued support towards enhancing the welfare of various clusters of the physically challenged and the Albinos in the State.
The Commissioner however prevailed on Members of Albinism Association of Nigeria to ensure that their Permanent Voters Cards are handy in preparation for the forthcoming 2023 General Elections.
” For Members of Albinism Association of Nigeria in the State to continue to enjoy quality dividends of democracy and good governance, you must be ready with your PVCs to vote for a man who will continue to protect your welfare and give you a sense of belonging in governance. You can only find that in the PDP- led Government in Akwa Ibom State”.
The Commissioner generously lauded the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel and his wife, Dr. (Mrs.) Martha Udom Emmanuel, for the premium both have placed on the welfare of persons living with disabilities in the State as a matter of State’s policy and their individual love for them as frequently expressed in different fora.
In her welcome remarks, the State Chairperson of Albinism Association of Nigeria and Advocacy for Persons with Albinism Network, Mrs Nene Bassey challenged her members to remain united in making their voices heard through participation in electoral processes and making themselves to be seen as golden gift from God which must be cherished and appreciated by all lovers of good things.
“So we came here to register our solidarity and to reaffirm our usual full support to the Akwa Ibom State government which has given us a sense of belonging and of course, the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Dr. Ini Adiakpan, for effectively playing the role of a mediator and mother between the government and our Association”.
Mrs Bassey who applauded the robust and fruitful collaboration between her Organisation and the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare, appreciated the support of Akwa Ibom State Government to the survival and success of Albinism Association in Akwa Ibom State.
Resource persons at the event: Ms Muluka Anne Mitidruumon, UN Independent Expert, Barr Mrs Iquo Abia of Federation of Women Lawyers , and Charles Nga, Consultant with University of Uyo Teaching Hospital stressed the need for awareness and sensitization campaigns against stigmatization of the Albinos in the Society.
Also present at the event were: Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Mrs Margaret Edem, General Secretary, Albinism Association of Nigeria, Adeyi Onah Daniel, Cross River State Coordinator, Pastor Bassey Mbang,, Coordinator, Edo State, Mr. John Prester among others.
The international Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD) is commemorated annually on June 13 by States in Nigeria and member countries to draw attention to and celebrate the human rights of persons with albinism worldwide. The 2022 edition has the theme – “Uniting in Making Our Voice Heard”