Wife of Governor of Abia, Mrs Priscilla Otti, on Tuesday distributed no fewer that 100 white canes to the visually impaired in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the items were given to the beneficiaries on the occasion of the International White Cane and Safety Awareness Day in Umuahia.
The day is observed globally on every Oct. 15, to create awareness on the significance of the white cane as tool of independence for the blind, but the state couldn’t celebrate it on that day due to myriad of activities.
The event, which was organised by the state chapter of Nigeria Association of the Blind in collaboration with the Office of Wife of the Governor and the Ministry of Women Affairs, started with road parade and was culminated with a seminar at the ministry’s secretariat.
The governor’s wife told the beneficiaries that the white cane symbolised independence as well as embodies resilience and determination for them to navigate a world that often remain hidden to them.
Mrs Otti, who was represented by Mrs Chinwe Onyeukwu, Special Assistant to the Governor on Women Affairs, said that the government was poised to the full implementation of the state disability law.
“I’m also bringing you this assurance that the provisions of the Disability Law are going to be fully implemented and enforced” she said.
Also, Mrs Ngozi Felix, Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, said that persons with sight impairment face numerous barriers to their full inclusion and participation in the life of their communities.
She commended Gov. Alex Otti and the wife, Priscilla, for promoting and advocating equitable access to public service for persons with sight impairment as well as building their capacities.
The commissioner, therefore, enjoined all stakeholders 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.
Mr David Anyaele, Special Assistant to the Governor on Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), said that the global celebration was a demonstration of the significance of mobility to the blind community.
According to him, white cane symbolises movement, direction, solidarity, inclusion and participation in the society.
Anyaele, who said that the 100 white canes were donated based on the *association’s* request, thanked the governor’s wife for the kind gesture.
Mrs. Ifeoma Thomas Special Assistant to the Governor on Vulnerable Groups and Poverty Alleviation, said that the occasion signified inclusion and equal access.
She charged the PWDs not to allow anyone to look down on them irrespective of the circumstances, but rather put their skills and talents to fruition in their endeavours.
Earlier in a remark, Mr Isaac Okwudiri, the state Chairman, Nigeria Association of the Blind, said that it was the first time the day was being practically and officially observed since the creation of the state.
He expressed gratitude to the governor for granting the association’s request, while soliciting support for some of its indigent members who dropped out from secondary school due to lack of sponsorship.
“We wish to plead with His Excellency, Gov. Alex Otti, to help us replace our set of musical band, which has outlived its usefulness as it is now damaged.
“This is one of the means through which our unemployed youths who are skilled in this area help themselves and also the association,” he said.
NAN further reports that there were goodwill messages and a paper presentation on the theme: “Removing the barriers that impede the rehabilitation and total independence of persons with visual impairment.”