The 2021 World Albinism Day was marked on Sunday, June 13, globally with the theme: “Strength Beyond All Odds.” In Nigeria, it was marked virtually because of the COVID-19 restrictions.
At the event, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN called for more attention to be paid to the needs of this special group. “As a people, and in our communities, it is paramount to have conversations around the safety and enablement of our citizens who live with Albinism…there is a need to see it for what it is, a genetic difference not a contagious disease or a public health problem.”
According to Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Osinbajo said that in dealing with the various challenges faced by the albinism community, there is need to “have frank and robust conversations around the protection and empowerment of our compatriots that live with albinism.”
“These conversations will drive change on two levels – in the public domain, where socio-cultural perceptions of Albinism that are rooted in ignorance and superstition can finally be laid to rest,” said Osinbajo.
He admitted, “This is not going to be an easy task because superstition and socio-cultural issues take a while to deal with but we must aggressively begin to present counter-narratives to the socio-cultural misconceptions about albinism.”
Secondly, he said interventions made “must be designed to improve the lives of people living with Albinism. The time is now to do more to reverse negative mindsets and socio-cultural stereotypes about albinism in our society. We must also go further to take deliberate steps as private individuals and public servants by giving them equal opportunity in the workplace and in social settings as well.”
He said of Jake Eppele, convener of the event, “He is one of the most eloquent and influential spokespersons for the rights, protection, and welfare of albinos in Nigeria and the world over. I think it is the hard work of people like Pastor Jake, and in response to the numerous challenges faced by the Albinism community in the country, that led to the adoption in 2012, of the National Policy on Albinism.”
The objective of the policy, said Osinbajo, was to assist persons with Albinism and provide them with as conducive an environment as possible for their self-actualisation. Subsequently, in 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari set up a technical committee to review the policy in order to assess its success since implementation and facilitate the access of persons living with Albinism to social services, particularly education and healthcare.
Eppele commended the Vice President for attending the virtual event despite being on transit. “Thank you for being a man of your words. Even though you are travelling and in transit, you stopped over just to address us. It shows us how passionate you are of the less-privileged. I also want to say that you have made history by becoming the first Vice President globally to address persons with Albinism on this day, and I have it on record.”
Mary Beth Leonard, the American Ambassador to Nigeria, was among the dignitaries at the event.
Follow Us on Social Media