By Josiah Adedayo,Abuja
Members of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) chapter of the National Association of Blind Persons, on Friday, had a stakeholders’ meeting with the Senior Legislative Aide to the Senate President on Stakeholders’ Engagement and Mobilization, Hon. Femi Odere at the National Centre for Women Development, Central Business District, Abuja.
Speaking after the introduction of the members present, the Chairman of the FCT Chapter of the Association, Mr.Jagada Jacob, who also spoke on behalf of the members, expressed gratitude to the aide of the Senate President for honoring their invitation. “It was quite pleasant to us when one of our members told us that he spoke to you that our association would like to have a meeting with you and you said you would come. It’s a rarity for someone from the Office of the Senate President to honor our invitation,” the chairman said.
Without holding back, the FCT Chairman expressed their collective disappointment with the federal and state governments because of what he described as their lack of complete integration into the Nigerian society by way of educational attainment of their members, empowerment, skills acquisition, and mobility among other provisions.
The chapter chairman said he’s therefore appealing, on behalf of his members, to Senate President Godswill Akpabio to intervene in the challenges facing the association.
“We have institutional impediments, especially office accommodation for those of us in the federal civil service; lack of access to training, skill acquisition to compete favorably in the society, scholarships, empowerment programs, buses,” Jacob said.
The National Chairman on Empowerment and Economy of the association Kenneth Echiche, in his remarks, expressed his gratitude to the Senate President for the leadership he’s bringing to bear in the Senate in particular and the National Assembly as a whole.
He said the association is particularly grateful for the Disability Act that has become law under his leadership. However, he appealed to Akpabio for the enforcement of the 5 percent employment reservation for their members in all the federal MDAs as enshrined in the Act.
The Senior Legislative Aide, in his reaction, said they should not be surprised that he came to honor their invitation as he considered their association as his constituency. “I see you as an important stakeholder in the Nigerian Project. It is the everyday people like you that sustain our hard-earned democracy because you’re the ones we call upon on the day of the election to vote. So, we should not have to wait until the election period to engage you and ask you how are things going with you and how we’re doing,” Odere said.
Akpabio’s aide said that the Tinubu administration and the 10th Senate under his principal’s leadership is without a shadow of a doubt people-friendly since the inception of this Fourth Republic in 1999.
“The Senate President is indeed a caring man as has been attested to by one of your members with the passage of the Disability Act. Your requests are not beyond what the Senate President can look into. I will take these requests and present them to my principal and get back to you this,” Odere said.
Present at the meeting were Kenneth Echiche, National Chairman on Empowerment and Economy; Mrs. Kalama Scholastical, Treasurer; Mrs. Gladys Ikpeama Okwara, Women Leader; Joseph Ogaba, Asst. Sec.; Jagada Jacob, Chairman, FCT Chapter; Kalu Eli Eke, Vice Chairman; Amara Onyedilefu, Member; and Callista Ugwuaneke, Member.