By Emma Una, Calabar
Persons Living with Disabilities have lamented the disdain with which some people treat them as if they are lesser humans.
Speaking in an emotion-laden voice, Dr. Livinus Okpa, the Coordinator of the National Association of Persons Living with Disabilities during a visit to the Arthur Jarvis University in Calabar said stigmatization and ill-treatment leave some of his members depressed and discouraged.
” Jobs that our members are qualified and can perform very well are denied them because of one disability or the other and given to others and this makes them very sad”
He said denial of opportunities keeps many disabled persons poor and sends them to the streets to beg and called for a change of attitude by the public.
He expressed gratitude to Sir Jarvis Archibong, the Chancellor of the University for accepting to grant them an audience.
“Thank you for choosing to be the feet of the lame, voice to the dumb, ears to the deaf, and eyes to the blind”. Okpa told Archibong
In his reaction, Sir Archibong announced scholarship awards and employment offers to members and children of persons living with disabilities in Cross River State.
He recalled that when the University was in its formative stage, his aspirations have always been to provide platforms that promote inclusiveness.
“Before the license for the University was signed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I wrote in my diary that we have to collaborate with persons with disabilities”
Sir Jarvis, who became emotional by the stories of stigmatisation of members, stated that the challenges facing persons with disabilities are enormous and should not be left in the hands of government alone as private individuals and institutions have vital roles to play.
“It is our humble desire to address the challenge of unemployment amongst your members and we are extending employment opportunities to accommodate the five percent employment benchmark issued by National Disability Act section 8 subsection 5c passed into law in 2018 by the National Assembly, we also pledge to be part of all activities of JONAPWD”.
He called on the executive of the association to supply the names of children and wards of members who are qualified for admission and employment to be taken in immediately
” The scholarships, employment opportunities, financial donations are meant to support the activities of the association and will have a ripple effect on the society”. Sir Arching