The President of Joint National Association of Persons with Disability (JONAPWD), Mr Onyebuchi Mbah had urged University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) students to desist from unenthusiastic attitude towards students living with disabilities, urging them to treat them equally.
He made the plea during the first awareness and educative programme tagged, “Breaking barriers towards an inclusive University for all”, held at the Faculty of Arts lecture hall on Thursday, June 22nd.
According to Mr Mbah, Students with Special Needs (SSN) do not suffer from their disabilities, but from the nostalgic attitudes displayed by other students in the environment. He added that if these people are treated with empathy rather than sympathy, they would come out of their shells and participate in various activities in the society.
While delivering his speech also, he added that students living with disabilities lack better technological tools to harness their learning process. The President then called upon state actors and non actors of the society to help donate technological aid while at the same time, pleading with the new government of Nigeria to sign the bill of recognizing people with disabilities into law.
He urged the members of SSN to ignore negative talks of people around and concentrate more on their future, mentioning various personalities who despite their disabilities, were able to make names for themselves.
In an interview with Mr Martins Chukwuebuka, the President of the Association of Students with Special Needs (ASSN) UNN, on the reasons for organizing the programme, he said it was to encourage and enlighten people living with disabilities to love and cherish themselves the way they are. He also encouraged the public to show full support to help them as and when necessary.
The event which was the first of its kind was organized by the officials of the association and had people like Dr Larry Oguego, the Coordinator of Human Rights Volunteer Corps (HRVC) Enugu in attendance. Dr. Oguego in one of his speeches told the audience that the only key to an inclusive University for all, is a good infrastructure.
He urged the University bodies to provide materials and electronic gadgets to aid their studies.
Also, Mr Godwin Mboutidem, a 200 level visually impaired student from the department of Mass Communication told the reporters in a WhatsApp message that the programme is an enabler to him, stating that he has come to see himself as someone that can do everything, despite his disability.
He added that it saddens his heart that none of his lecturers came to the event, despite the huge number of disabled students in the department. “The message basically was for everyone. And I love the way students came out to support us.” he concluded. Miss Miracle Ugwu a student from the department of Psychology, 200 level, said they do not need pity from people to get what they want .” If other students can put themselves in our shoes instead of pitying us, things will be fine” she added.
The programme which started with a live band had other dignitaries like the Dean of Students Affairs, Prof Edwin Omeje, representatative of the Vice Chancellor of the University, Mrs Uju Umo; two staffs of SSN, Mrs Uju Umo and Mrs Ezinne Njoku and a lecturer from the department of Religion and Cultural Studies, Prof Chidinma Alex, all in attendance to witness the amazing event. Organisations that sponsored the event l were Bina Foundation, Tesh eye clinic and Joy Nwanyi Caro Restaurants.