Jonathan appeals for support for albinos, vulnerable Nigerians

President Goodluck Jonathan

“we must work collectively to stop all forms of discrimination against these groups of persons,” the president said.

President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday appealed to groups, associations, foundations and privileged members of the society to assist vulnerable Nigerians.

Mr. Jonathan, who made the appeal in Abuja at the official launch of MDGs/TAF (The Albino Foundation) M-Empower Project, also called for support for persons living with albinism.

Represented by the Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufa’i, the president said “we must work collectively to stop all forms of discrimination against these groups of persons.

“We must all help to alleviate the challenges encountered by vulnerable groups in our dear country.’’

He said understanding albinism and engendering the social inclusion of albinos in all spheres of life was critical to the overall efforts to addressing the challenges of those living with the condition. He reiterated Federal Government’s commitment to defend the fundamental rights of vulnerable groups in the country.

“Our laws already provide for the protection of all persons against discrimination on the grounds of colour, ethnicity, language or religion,’’ he added.

He stressed the need for more enlightenment to educate people to avoid all forms of discrimination, stigma and superstitious beliefs about albinism.

The president commended TAF for the initiative, “which seeks to better the lot of people living with the condition and giving them a sense of belonging.’’

He said government, on its part, would continue to pursue the MDGs because they were in line with the transformation agenda of practical national development.

Earlier, in a welcome address, the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, said the project was designed to fulfill the aspect of the National Education Goal.

Mr. Wike said the goal stipulated the acquisition of appropriate relevant skills and competencies to enhance the socioeconomic development of the society. He said the ministry had taken a pragmatic approach through many policies and programmes for the elimination of social exclusion, discrimination and other challenges confronting vulnerable groups of the society.

Speaking at the event, former Nigerian President, Shehu Shagari, who is the Grand Patron of the foundation, commended the office of the Senior Special Assistant on MDGs.

He said he was commending the office for the partnership with TAF to empower the society’s vulnerable group, specifically the albinos.

Mr. Shagari, who was also represented at the event by second republic President of the Senate, Joseph Wayas, urged the MDGs’ office to maintain the momentum and ensure that the project was not “rendered stillborn.

“You can assure us this by promptly releasing funds that your office has so graciously earmarked for the successful implementation of this project,” he said.

In an address, the Founder/CEO of TAF, Jake Epelle, said the project was a pilot scheme aimed at empowering 370 less-privileged Nigerian youth.

He said 10 people, including five albinos, would be empowered through the project to be drawn from each state of the federation and the FCT. He thanked President Jonathan for the support given TAF.

He added that the president had been a pillar for the foundation “being the first to treat albinos with skin cancer free of charge.’’

(NAN)


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