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TRAVAILS OF PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED PERSONS: ‘Even family members despise us!’

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…Praise Gbagi for providing succour

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, Niger Delta and Perez Brisibe

PHYSICALLY challenged persons, under the aegis of Delta Disability Vanguard, DDV, and Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, JONAPWD, in Delta State, have complained that some members of their respective families were ill-treating them for their predicaments.

Some of them, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard at Oginibu, the country home of former Minister of State (Education), business tycoon and philanthropist, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, in Ughelli South Local Government Area of the state, said it was something they have gotten used to.

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Gbagi, through his Gbagi Foundation, a non-partisan and non-governmental organization, whose focus include social, educational, economic and psychological wellbeing of Nigerians without recourse to their ethnic gender, religion or political affiliation, had, last Christmas, played host to the physically challenged people and set up a N10 million fund to assist them.

But he promised to do more than just assisting them. He said he would be a burden-bearer to the physically-challenged and, true to his Christmas day promise, the Gbagi Foundation, Monday, for medical assessment to fashion out ways it can assist them with their living conditions.

‘We didn’t purchase ailment from the market’

One of the beneficiaries, Friday Ikreghwagbedia, who lamented the plight of physically challenged persons, told Sunday Vanguard: “Gbagi is God-sent to us because even our own family members, who are able-bodied, discriminate against us and assume that we are a problem to them because of our predicament.

“I want to urge public spirited Nigerians to emulate the philanthropic gesture of Gbagi. We did not buy our plight from the market as it can happen to anybody apart from those born that way.

“The only person who has embarked on similar gesture for us is Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, now Gbagi has come to our aid and I am glad to be a beneficiary”.

Others, who spoke in the same manner, said they did not want to mention names of family members, but they had decided to take it in their strides, believing that God, through people like Gbagi, would send succour to them.

One of them said, “It is not the fault of anybody that I am crippled from birth, so they can continue to undermine me as long as they wish. But nobody is God, if God, who created me, did not desert me, then their discrimination against me amounts to nothing.

“What I know is that God is God, He never changes and He can use anybody, even sand and trees, to handle the affairs of His people.

“My prayer is that Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi should be the one He has sent to liberate us because from what they told us here today, the man is ready and only God would have given him to heart to bear our burden.

“We are praying for him. His source of income will never dry. Whatever he is looking for, our Father will provide for him for our sake and anybody pursuing him will fall.”

We initially assumed it was political prank – Igbuzor, DDV coordinator

Surgeons, gynaecologists and other personnel, including officials of the Foundation, led by Justice Sybil Gbagi, wife of the Delta 2023 governorship hopeful, attended to the victims, who thronged Oginibu for medical and clinical assessment to get their actual health status and define the nature of their disabilities with respect to the kind of help that is most suitable for them.

An amazed Coordinator of DDV, Ernest Igbuzor, stated: “When he made the promise on Christmas Day, we actually thought it was one of those political talks by politicians.”

Giving details of how his group met Gbagi, he said: “Having noted the philanthropic gesture of Chief Gbagi, we felt we should honour him with an award.

“Based on this, we contacted him, and he suggested that we meet and also use the event to host the physically challenged and that was how we met on Christmas Day, feted together, he gave us cash and further promised to look into our health issues”.

Igbuzor added that Gbagi promised that the health and financial situation of all the 100 persons who attended the Christmas Day event will be looked into, “but we actually thought it was a political statement like politicians do.

“We were, therefore, surprised that a few days into the New Year, we got SMS asking us to be here for medical screening in line with what he promised on Christmas Day”.

Describing the development as novel, he said: “This is the first of its kind in the state and we strongly believe that if others can follow this path, the society will be a better place and, in doing this, they are not only mobilizing persons with disability, they are also making them useful to their communities at large.

“So my message, basically, is that they should emulate him so that we can have a better society.”

Speaking on the exercise, the Coordinator of the programme, Dr. Harrison Abedi, said: “What we have here is like a mini-clinic, where we first check their vitals like blood pressure and weight after which they are taken to the consultant orthopaedic surgeons who do the expert assessment.

“We also have a desk that takes other details like bank account details and what they do for a living that will assist the foundation to meet them at their point of need”.

Assistant Director of Nursing Services for the Foundation, Mrs. Gloria Okumbor, while lauding Gbagi for the exercise, said there were two orthopaedic consultants to evaluate the bones of the beneficiaries, especially those who will need prosthesis, an optician for those who have issues with their eyes, and a medical doctor, and others, to bring the total number of medics to eight.”

What Gbagi Foundation stands for – Justice Gbagi

Justice Sybil Gbagi told Sunday Vanguard: “For us in the Foundation, it is more than a Foundation but an expression of love in its purest form and it is a movement birthed by the brilliant initiative of our principal, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi.

“Since its inception many years ago, the Foundation has provided succour for a variety of humanitarian assistance to all and sundry across the country, cutting across the provision of quality education, primary health care service, basic amenities and infrastructure such as rural electrification, pipe borne water for rural communities, prison visits etc.

“What you are witnessing here today is an offshoot of the mandate given by the Chairman of the Foundation on December 25 when he gave N10 million to a properly constituted committee of medical practitioners to critically assess the conditions of the physically challenged in the state.”

Our mandate— Idahosa

Legal Officer/Publicity Secretary of Gbagi Foundation, Emmanuel Idahosa Esq., stated, “Over the years, the Foundation has provided scholarships, grants and endowment fund for indigent pupils/students across the country.”

He cited the grant given to fund the education of over 2,000 pupils from primary to tertiary level in Delta State, the recent N6 Million Gbagi Foundation’s Endowment Fund instituted at Edwin Clark’s University’, Kiagbodo and the N60 million grant earmarked for the second phase of the Gbagi Foundation Endowment Fund in 10 higher institutions of learning in Nigeria.

“On the 25th day of December, 2019, at the Annual Conference of Oginibu community which held at the Robinson Gbagi Civic Centre, Oginibu, Delta state, Olorogun Gbagi, through Gbagi Foundation instituted a N10 million community health fund cutting across primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare systems in Delta State”, he said.

“In demonstration of his commitment, he immediately handed the draft to the leader of a properly constituted team of medical practitioners drawn from across various areas of the medical sector in the country, including surgeons, gynaecologists and members of the Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (M.D.C.A.N), Delta State University Teaching Hospital, Delta State.

“As an offshoot of the charge and mandate handed down by Olorogun Gbagi, the team of medical practitioners, today, commenced the implementation of the policy statement of the Chairman of Gbagi Foundation, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, FNIM, thus, opening a new and far reaching chapter for the Foundation’s programs for 2020.

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“The team medical experts are mandated to go round all 25 local government areas of Delta state in furtherance of this mandate. Those who know Olorogun Gbagi will attest to the incontrovertible fact that he does not say what he will not do.

“A man pragmatic and dogged in his approach towards the welfare of those around him, Olorogun Gbagi will stop at nothing to see smiles envelop the faces and hope restored to the hearts of people”.

Vanguard

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