By Adedapo Adesanya
The Albinism Association of Nigeria (AAN) has called for increased innovation to drive sustainable development, which will help close the gap and destigmatise disability in the country.
This call was made by the president of the albinism group, Mrs Bisi Bamishe, at an event used to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) on December 31, 2022.
The day was marked in Lagos at the weekend with a roadshow and talk on an inclusive environment for people with albinism.
Speaking at the event, she congratulated the community of persons with albinism in Nigeria for their active engagement, resilience, and positive contributions to the country’s socio-economic development.
AAN is the umbrella body of persons with albinism (PWAs). With the vision to attain a fair, secure, and socially inclusive society that empowers members and provides unfettered access to opportunities for self-fulfilment and dignity of human life.
She noted that the body’s mission is to unite and protect the rights and interests of persons with albinism against discrimination and marginalisation in society.
“Our choice of today’s gathering is to create awareness, as we aim to let the voice of persons with Albinism be heard about our aspirations and needs and make recommendations to the government.”
She said this spurred the theme of the day, Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world, and highlighted examples of how innovation and technology can be leveraged for this purpose.
Mrs Bamishe said, “Innovation can support disability-inclusive development in employment, transportation, education, health, and entertainment, among others. New technology can open job opportunities for PWAs.
“It is worth noting that innovation for disability-inclusive development can help reduce inequality and enable a disability-inclusive society in both the public and private sectors.
“On this special occasion, we honour together the significant contributions of persons with albinism in our state, local and national development.”
She also used the opportunity to reiterate the call for a better life for persons with albinism.
“We cry out against stigmatisation, marginalization and discrimination. We are being aligned and denied the right to live a normal life. Children at school are treated with no consideration for their disability while adults are denied access to jobs, and public facilities, among others.”
“Our members need to have adequate medical care. Many are dying of skin cancer due to a lack of preventive measures and prompt treatment for those suffering from skin cancer. We, therefore, solicit donations of sunblock lotion, hats, and UV protection umbrellas. Local production of sun lotion will be a greater advantage,” she stated.
Speaking further, she called for the creation of an inclusive environment by the Nigerian government for persons with albinism.
“We call on both government and enterprises to tap into the talent pool of persons with albinism.
“In the past years, persons with albinism have made active efforts to call the attention of the government to the need for implementation of disability law. This will surely ameliorate our hardship and suffering.”
“We want to appreciate our development partners in promoting opportunities for PWAs to participate in all spheres of life. Specifically, we say a big thank you to Sightsavers. However, we appeal for more support from development partners and the internationalisation community, help strengthen our abilities and make the rights of persons with disabilities a reality,” Mrs Bamishe added.
She also used the event to introduce the new executives of the association, which will help drive the much-needed advocacy for PWAs.
These are Mrs Bisi Lucy Bamishe, President; Hajia Mariam Ishaka, vice President; Mr Adeyi Onah Daniel, General Secretary; Mr Olushegun Abinbola, Assistant General Secretary; Mrs Elizabeth Omotola, Treasurer; Mr Abel Mvandega, Financial Secretary; Mrs Nonye Ugbaugwu, Welfare Officer; and Mr Ismaila S. PRO.