Olakiitan Victor in Ado Ekiti
A 31-year-old Albino, Ibigbami Damilola, has appealed to the Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, and well-meaning Nigerians to save her from dying of cancer of the nose.
Ibigbami, whose fate now hangs in the balance, needs N1 million to undergo surgery; this is after her parents had expended over N400,000 to keep her alive since the ailment began a year ago.
The economics/social studies graduate of College of Education, Ikere Ekiti, said the sickness started with a boil a year ago, after which further diagnosis revealed that it was cancer of the nose, which ruptured, left a gapping hole on her face and has completely disfigured her.
Due to the absence of pigmentation, clinically known as melanin in the skin, hair and eyes, sunburn and skin cancer are common ailments that afflict most albinos worldwide.
Speaking with journalists in Ado Ekiti yesterday, Ibigbami disclosed that she had visited more than four hospitals, and all of them had failed to heal the wound.
“As it stands, I can’t breathe through the nose. The pain is excruciating and threatening my life. I want to appeal to Nigerians to come to my aid. I have to go through surgery and radiotherapy to be able to live a normal life, the cost I can’t afford,” she said.
Her 59-year-old father and retiree, Mr. Samuel Ibigbami, expressed regret that albinos are treated like outcasts in their own country.
He added that government and corporate organisations had not been fair to them in terms of employment, welfare and other critical areas that could ease the perculiar problems associated with albinism.
“I think the albinism association must advocate the establishment of a commission through which they can channel their grievances. They are sidelined, neglected and they have become hopeless in their own country.
“As a retiree, I’m being owed 12 months pension arrears and I can’t afford the cost. My family is now in disarray. To eat is not easy. We are agonising and we beg Nigerians for help,” he said.
The Chairman of the Albinism Association in Ekiti, Mr. Abegunde Muyiwa, also accused the federal government of neglecting them, saying it was quite unfortunate that his members were being treated like second class citizens in their own country.
In a letter dated October 13, 2015 and addressed to Fayose by the Albinism Association by Abegunde, the group said Nigeria with over 40 per cent of albinism cases globally ought to place a high premium on the wellbeing of its members.
“We are the most neglected, most stigmatised and most discriminated against among the vulnerable groups. We are not considered for employment benefits, even among these groups.
“Skin cancer treatment was free in the past, but today it has been scrapped and our members, who fall within the most poverty-stricken are the worst victims of this ailment.
“We are pleading with government to reverse the action and make life comfortable for us. There are so many jobs that could be of help that we cannot do because of our ocular impairment. We cannot be commercial motorcyclists, neither can we go into tailoring, among others. Government must save us from dying in penury,” he stated.