We must look beyond skin colour – Obaze

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Since the United Nations’ General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming, with effect from 2015, 13 June as International Albinism Awareness Day, the day has been set aside internationally to advance the cause of people living with albinism.

As part of the events to mark this year’s albinism awareness day, a former top United Nations’ official, the immediate-past Secretary to Anambra State Government and a front runner in the forthcoming governorship election in the state, Mr. Oseloka H. Obaze has called for an end to all forms of discrimination against people living with albinism.

Mr. Obaze who was recently installed as an ambassador in the campaign against all forms of discrimination against persons with albinism, made the call in Awka, in a public dialogue on albinism organised by Samora Media Limited to mark the awareness day.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Obaze agreed with the United Nations that “people with albinism face multiple forms of discrimination worldwide. Albinism is still profoundly misunderstood, socially and medically.”

While agreeing with the theme of this year’s observance which is;People With Albinism: Not Ghosts But Human Beings, Obaze opined that “Naturally, some people are deemed to be normal and some are not.  But we are all people, with the same inalienable rights; and similar aspirations. Indeed, no living person is a child of a lesser God.”

In his speech, the convener of the dialogue and the MD of Samora Media Limited, Samuel Oramalu, who lives with the condition, recalled how a potential employer made jest of him because of his albinism when he sought employment at the firm. Without allowing him to sit for the interview just like other job applicants, the manager touted his eyesight and asked him to leave the facility because people like him “have no place here.”

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Mr. Obaze frowned at the exceptions, stereotypes and labels created by the society. He then called on the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to assent to the Disability Rights Bill to improve the conditions of Nigerians living with Albinism.

The public policy expert decried the fact that both the federal and state governments have not invested enough in the welfare of people living with albinism. “It’s a policy failure that we don’t have in the curriculum for teachers on how to handle students living with albinism. How then do we expect them teach these precious kids?

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“It’s only fair that students living with albinism be allowed some extra time in examinations and other academic exercises to make up for their eyesight defects.

“Government should also subsidise their medicated eyeglasses and sunscreens to ensure that people living with the condition lead a fulfilling and healthy life irrespective of their income cadre” Obaze concluded.

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