Physically challenged citizens were lavished with love and gifts on Valentine’s Day by the Kpakpando Foundation run by Senator Osita Izunaso. Olawale Ajimotokan who covered the event, reports
People bearing physical disabilities basked in the month of love when the Kpakpando Foundation for the Physically Challenged Persons (KFPCP) organised a Valentine Day festivity for them at Barcelona Hotel, Wuse 2, Abuja.
The Kpakpando Foundation, a foremost non-governmental charity organisation is run by Senator Osita Izunaso from Imo State, to bring smiles on the faces of the physically challenged people, through the provision of advocacy needs, health care and qualitative education. The welfare package is to make life more meaningful for them.
The Valentine Day celebration paraded some notable public dignitaries, who rallied around Izunaso, to realise the objectives of Kpakpando Foundation that was set up in 2006.
Over six thousand physically challenged individuals have benefited from the foundation’s largess since its establishment.
Monetary donations were made in support of the welfare and to enable the physically challenged purchase wheel chairs, resolve financial hitches, pay school fees and pursue new businesses.
For the records, in the past 12 years, the Kpakpando Foundation has awarded scholarship to 1,000 persons with disability, acquired 20,000 units of wheel chairs, 1,000 units of motorised wheelchairs, 1,000 computers and laptops, 5,000 units of grinding machines, over 12,000 units of clutches, over 10,000 sewing machines and over 200 units of braille machines, among other giveaways.
Chairman of the Valentine party celebration, Abike Dabiri, appealed to other organisations to emulate the example of Kpakpando Foundation by making a difference in somebody’s life wherever they have the time.
“We can do it individually, collectively and the opportunity is to just touch somebody’s life, which Senator Osita Izunaso is doing,” Dabiri, who is the Presidential Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora and Foreign Affairs, said.
Izunaso, who noted that anybody could suffer disability, said a Bill on People with Disabilities had been passed by the Senate and House of Representatives and would be forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.
He said the National Assembly will soon embark on an advocacy to ask for the president’s assent.
He put the number of people with disabilities in Nigeria at over 23 million people, saying the number is increasing daily with the North-east insurgency.
According to Izunaso, if the bill is assented to, a commission will be established for people with disabilities in Nigeria, with the National Assembly approving a budget for its running.
“We don’t even have the proper statistics for people living with disabilities. What we are saying is that at least 10 per cent of jobs in Nigeria be reserved for people living with disabilities,” Izunaso said.
He said if the bill is signed into law, it will have a commission, while the backers will also push for the establishment of Ministry for Disabled People.
“The women have Women Development Centre, which is a commission for women in addition to Ministry of Women Affairs. Why can’t the people with disabilities have at least one of such if the women can have two? It is mind-boggling that public buildings, even some with 10 floors, don’t have access for disabled people. We can seek for the rights enshrined in our constitution and respect them,” he stressed.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) National Disabled Leader, Misbahu Lawan Didi, said he was honoured to celebrate the Valentine Day with his fellow people with disabilities under the support of Kpakpando Foundation.
Lawan Didi asked other well-meaning Nigerians to emulate Izunaso by showing affection for people with disability and making them feel as part of the Nigerian society.
“What Senator Izunaso has done by organising a Valentine Day programme to celebrate with people with disability on this day is a good thing. I really appreciate him and want to encourage other influential Nigerians to emulate his gesture for people with disability. And I think the significance of today is to show love and that people with disability are not left out in today’s world. We thank God for the blessings that He has given to Izunaso, in order to touch the lives of people with disability,” Lawan Didi said.
The Nigeria Turkish International College (NTIC) Foundation supported the occasion by donating educational materials to be distributed to secondary schools.
The Director NTIC Foundation, Behlul Fatih Baaran, said the foundation collaborated with Kpakpando Foundation to distribute educational stationary package to students.
Baaran said NTIC Foundation had been organising a stationary package distribution since the last five years, adding that they had reached out to 7,500 students and are targeting 15,000 students this year by encouraging them to embrace education.
“We call it ‘Education is Hope’ and we are trying to encourage people to be educated by giving them special package. Though we are doing this independently, but we are distributing our educational materials with some of our partner organisations like Kpakpando Foundation,” Baaran said.
The NTIC Foundation was established in June 2013 and engages in four major activities, including health relief, education relief, hunger relief and sinking of bore holes under the water is life project.
Baaran lauded the initiative of Kpakpando Foundation for giving prominence to the disabled people, who ordinarily the larger society will overlook and discriminate against.
“Honestly we are very proud of him; we are really supporting him and wish him all the best because he is encouraging others also to engage in this type of relief activity. He is setting a good example in the society and it is really great,” said Baaran.
APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, commended Izunaso, a member of the party’s National Working Committee, for choosing the Valentine Day, to bring together the disabled people and for also giving his political associates the privilege of sharing the day with disabled people.
“I am glad that today is spent with Nigerians with disability, facilitated by the Kpakpando Foundation. Senator Izunaso has made it his life ambition to people with slight challenge to come and make them feel wanted, to make them feel equal to any other member of the Nigerian community and to make them feel and believe and have the confidence that their disability should not be a barrier to what they can attain in life.
“We all have some forms of disabilities, except that yours is placing obstacles in your ways. The basis of our presence is that we want you to feel loved. We want you to know that, yes, you have challenges, more than we have, but we want you to develop that confidence in yourselves. That confidence is your ability, the can do feeling that in spite of this disadvantage, you can still rise to the very top,” Odigie-Oyegun said.
He said soon, public buildings will not get approval, unless they make provisions for the easy access for people with disabilities, thanking Izunaso for being a change champion for the passage of a legislation to make the provisions mandatory.
The President of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JNAPD), Ekaette Judith Umoh, said the initiative had demonstrated that Kpakpando Foundation was indeed in love with the over 25 million people nursing disabilities.
She said the joint umbrella body that seeks for inclusion for people with disabilities is not giving up on the bill on Disabled People Act, which they believed will surely see the light of the day and address the issues of people with disabilities, so that it can create a level playing field, where they can all contribute to national development.
Senator Florence Ita-Giwa made a cash donation of N1million to the community to assist in the acquisition of some wheel chairs for them.
Ita- Giwa, a former special adviser on National Assembly Matters, later joined Umoh and former Head of Service of the Federation and Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Mrs. Amal Pepple in presenting a N500,000 cheque to Queen Helen Makama, winner of the Face of Kpakpando Beauty Pageant.