Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said that it has become paramount for Nigerians to have conversations around the safety and enablement of fellow citizens who live with albinism.
He made this statement at a virtual event, attended by distinguished personalities including diplomats such as the American Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, to mark the World Albinism Day with the theme “Strength Beyond All Odds.”
Osinbajo in a statement issued yesterday by his media aide, Laolu Akande, said “there is a need to see it for what it is, a genetic difference not a contagious disease or a public health problem.”
In dealing with the various challenges faced by the albinism community, Osinbajo stressed the 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,” he added.
The vice president admitted that “this is not going to be an easy task because superstition and sociocultural issues take a while to deal with, but we must aggressively begin to present counter-narratives to the socio-cultural misconceptions about albinism.”
He said that interventions made must be designed to improve the lives of people living with albinism, adding that this is the time 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”, Osinbajo said.
While commending the convener of the event, Mr Jake Eppele, the vice president noted that “he is one of the most eloquent and influential spokespersons for the rights, protection, and welfare of albinos in Nigeria and the world over.”
His words: “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.”
He added that the objective of the policy was to assist persons with albinism and provide them with as conducive an environment as possible for their self actualisation.
In his remarks, Mr Jake Eppele commended the vice president for making time to attend the virtual event despite being on transit.
Eppele thanked the VP 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.”