By Chinenyeh Ozor
AN amputee pastor who preaches the gospel on crutches, Rev. Jude Uchechukwu, of the World Liberation Assembly, has shown that there is ability in disability when he played host to about 100 physically challenged persons in the university town of Nsukka, Enugu State. He told physically challenged persons not to resign thensekves to their fate and beg at motor parks and on the streets.
Rev. Jude whomade the assertion during the assemblage of physically challenged persons in Nsukka organised by the World Liberation Assembly (aka House of Liberty) explained that the society should as a matter of necessity see and treat the disabled persons as equally human beings who could be offered good jobs irrespective of their disability and acquire skills in hair dressing, shoe making, soap-making, beads-making among others to eke out a living rather than begging for alms at motor parks and the streets of the country.
Registered physical challenged persons: He disclosed that over 400 physically challlenged persons registered with the Centre for Disabled Persons Committee (CDPC), Nsukka, adding that the number would be higher if all the physically challenged persons in Enugu north senatorial zone registered with the centre.
“You can see I am also physically challenged and I know what you people are passing through as I passed through the same way before God called me to His Vineyard. I feel bad when I see some of you begging at motor parks and streets. Disability is of the mind as you can blaze the trail and fix up in a business that would not require huge capital,” he said.
He said that the aim of the gathering together of the physically challenged was to interact with them to know which skill some of them could be engaged in to drive their means of livelihood, adding that the World Liberation Assembly has concluded plans to set up a skill acquisition centre where the physically challenged would learn a trade to improve their living conditions rather than begging as rejected persons in the society.
“As a church, we can solicit help from government agencies, corporate bodies, philanthropists, international donor agencies, fianance institutions and tertiary institutions across the globe for scholarsihips among others. From the records available, the number of physically challenged persons in Nsukka local government area alone is over 400 while those in other local government areas could not be ascertained. About 70 percent of the physically challenged persons in Nsukka LGA are beggars,” he said.
Approach to state government: Rev. Jude said that the centre for disabled persons has forwarded a memo to Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, on the pitiable conditions of physically challenged persons in Nsukka, pointing out that all the disabled persons in Nsukka trooped out en masse at the civic reception organised by Ihe/Owerre community in honour of the governor.
He said: “We marched on crutches, some limped, some crawled to have a hand shake with the governor who in turn promised to look into our situations soon,” he said.
Rev. Jude noted that seeing the physically challenged persons as beggers affects their mind set, explaining that people should stop seeing them as second class citizens who deserve pity by giving them N5, N10 and N20 at motor parks. He said there is work of charity which could be by empowerment and donating to orphange homes. “Some of the physically challenged persons in Nsukka alone are graduates, yet unemployed even when such a person has the prerequisite qualification for a job,” he said.
Skill acquisition for the physical challenged
Rev.Jude also said that World Liberation Assembly in conjunction wth the Centre for Disabled Persons committee (CDPC) Nsukka would need at least of N20m to set up a good skill acquisition centre for the physically challenged persons in Nsukka, adding that majority of the diabled persons have finished apprentice trade of either cobbler, motor cycle machanic, sewing, computer training, welding works among others but lacked the fund to start.
He noted that lack of fund to start a trade often times compel some of the physically challenged to go into begging to eat and stay alive. He explained that the Federal Government has never in any project of the country accommodated the physically challenged persons to feel the pulse of the nation.