Martins Ifijeh

The United Nations Information for Nigeria and the Onome Akinlolu Majaro Foundation have jointly condemned the stigmatisation and discrimination of persons living with albinism in Nigeria, describing the action as inhuman.

They said while those violating the rights of albinos should be brought to book, there should be swift prosecution of perpetrators of attacks against persons with albinism.

Speaking during the commemoration of the International Albinism Awareness Day in Lagos by OAM Foundation, the Director, United Nations Information for Nigeria, Mr. Ronald Kayanja said reports have shown that persons living with albinism were been hunted for rituals and amulets which have resulted in the killing of countless persons living with albinism.
Mr. Ronald expressed that in order for a person to be affected by albinism, both parents must carry the gene and in that case there is a 25percent chance that a child will be born with albinism at each pregnancy.

“It has been widely reported and documented that persons with albinism are hunted and physically attacked due to prevailing myths such as the misbelief that their body parts, when used in witchcraft rituals and potions or amulets, will induce wealth, good luck and political success. Other dangerous myths that facilitate the perpetration of attacks are those linked to perception of their appearance, including misbeliefs and myths that person with albinism are not human beings,” he said.

Mr. Ronald giving a break down analysis of proportion of persons affected by albinism in the world, he said, in North America and Europe, it is estimated that one in 17,000 to 20,000 people are affected by the condition, while in sub-Saharan Africa, one in 5,000 to 15,000 could be infected.

Speaking at the awareness day tagged: ‘Beyond The Complexion’, Ronald said that one of the most serious health implications of albinisms was the vulnerability to skin cancer.

“Skin cancer remains a life threatening condition for most persons with albinism. Statistics on the issue are mostly from Africa and they indicate a worrying trend. Some reports indicate that most persons with albinism die from skin cancer between ages of 30 and 40 years” he said.

On her part, the Co-Founder, OAM foundation, Mrs. Onome Okagbare Majaro said albinism results because of lack of melanin in the hair, skin and eyes, causing vulnerability to the sun, adding that it doesn’t mean disability or death sentence.

Mrs. Majaro lamented that persons with albinism faces multiple discrimination which consequently has led to pathetic stories of albinism

“There is no doubt that people with albinism face multiple forms of discrimination worldwide. The truth is, albinism is still greatly misconstrued, socially and medically even by elites. The physical appearance of persons with albinism is often the object of erroneous beliefs and myths influenced by superstition which fosters their marginalization and social exclusion” she said.

She said OAM Foundation has embarked on awareness about albinism to the general public, educate persons with albinism about skin care, empowerment to become better and confident members of the society and also organizing advocacy campaigns.

NYSC Donates Mobile Aids to Indigents in Abia

Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
It was a huge sense of relief for three indigent persons in Abia State when the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) provided them with wheel chairs to enable them move about easily. The state director of NYSC, Mrs. Francesca Ifon presented the mobility aids to the beneficiaries who were selected from different local governments of Abia. The beneficiaries include Mrs. Grace Okereke Nwaka from Ajatakiri in Ikwuano Local Government, Ndidi Akoma from Okeikpe, Ukwa West Local Government and Master Chukwubuikem Ukandu from Nkwoegwu Ohuhu in Umuahia North Local Government.

The state director, who represented the director general, Brig Gen. Suleman Kazaure, said that the donation of the wheel chairs was part of the community development service aspect of the objectives of the NYSC. She explained that the donation of the wheel chairs was made possible by the Grace Projects International (GPI), a non-governmental organisation based in the United States, which provided a number of wheel chairs to the NYSC in support of its community development service. The wheel chairs were distributed to the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Ifon explained that Abia State was allotted three wheel chairs “to alleviate the sufferings of the needy in the society,” adding that the beneficiaries in Abia were selected in collaboration with the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development. The NYSC state director commended the Abia State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development for giving the scheme “tremendous support”. Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Lady Chinedu Brown, who was represented by the Director of Rehabilitation, Esther Obinya, expressed gratitude to the NYSC for reaching out to the indigent Abians and providing them with mobility aids. She called on good spirited groups and individuals to emulate the NYSC in assisting the indigents in the society to live quality lives.

Ndidi Akoma, who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries after the presentation, expressed deep appreciation to the NYSC DG for donating the wheel chairs to them, adding that the gesture would improve their lives. Akoma later told THISDAY that she became a cripple at seven, adding that “it just happened like that.” She said that had been crawling any time she wanted to move from one point to another but with the wheel chair now in her possession courtesy of the NYSC she would be able to move about in a dignified manner. The pretty lady, who plaits hair for a living, was all smiles as she sat in her wheel chair looking forward to a new lease of life.