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The Lagos State Government has marked the 2018 International Albinism Awareness Day, restating its commitment to the protection of rights of every member of the society and the present administration’s determination to continually create opportunities for its residents to realise their potentials through decent means of livelihood.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola who spoke at the event in Alausa, Ikeja on Wednesday, maintained that every resident of the State irrespective of physical ability or disability has a role to play in the political and economic development of the Lagos State.
He said that as much as the State government is making frantic efforts to bridge the gap between the able-bodied and physically-challenged persons through the establishment of a level playing field for everyone to fully realise their potentials, members of the public must also play their roles by desisting from unnecessary discrimination based on skin colour and other physical challenges.
“Beyond the government, our entire negative societal attitude towards persons living with albinism must change. We must stop all acts of discrimination against the albinos. Parents must take very good care of their children with albinism, giving painstaking devotion to the peculiarity of their skins and the challenges with their sights” Muri-Okunola said.
Speaking against the background of the choreographic and recitation presentations made by some of the members of the Albinism society, the Permanent Secretary affirmed that ailment or skin colour does not limit potentials provided that the right attitude to success is cultivated.
While saying that albinism should not be seen as a disease, he urged members of the society, in general, to extend care and affection to members of the albinism society.
Muri-Okunola disclosed that the State government does not exclude any person in any of its policies and empowerment initiatives, saying that PWDs must explore the various windows of opportunity around them by keeping abreast of relevant information that will further guarantee their independence.
He appealed to employers of labour in the private sector to always give special considerations to the PWDs for employment opportunities.
The General Manager of Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs, LASODA, Dr. Babatunde Awelenje said it is the duty of the State Government to continually prioritise the needs of Persons Living With Disabilities, PWDs, including people with albinism who also experience discrimination in the society.
He said that the programme was organised to raise the level of awareness about the plights and rights of members of the Albinism society in the State.
Awelenje appealed to PWDs specifically people with albinism to go and collect their Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, so that they can also perform their civic rights of choosing credible leaders who will not discriminate against them but will continue to protect their interests.
The Chairperson of the Albinism Awareness Society in the State, Mrs. Omolola Josephine described the initiative of celebrating members of Albinism society as a rare opportunity and appreciated the Governor for his efforts in alleviating the standard of living of persons with diverse disabilities in the State.