UYO – The Akwa Ibom State Government has announced plans to increase educational grants for visually-impaired persons and other physically challenged individuals living in the State.
Gov. Godswill Akpabio made this known at the 2014 International White Cane and Safety Day organised by the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare in Uyo on Thursday.
Represented by his Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr Aniekan Umanah, Akpabio promised that his administration would not relent in its efforts at ensuring that the rights of the disabled were adequately protected in the state.
“The physically challenged persons are special people who deserve special attention and support from everyone.
“The plan by the government to increase scholarships for them is in line with the government’s commitment to improving their living standard in Akwa Ibom.”
Akpabio also noted that the government had implemented policies and programmes favourable to the disabled, including providing mobility aids for them.
Earlier in her remarks, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Dr Glory Edet, thanked the governor for his love and passion for the welfare of physically challenged persons, especially by approving the annual celebration of International White Cane Day and Safety Day.
Edet said that the event, aimed at celebrating the achievements of visually impaired persons, had further given them a sense of belonging.
“The occasion provided an opportunity for visually impaired persons to highlight challenges facing them.
“We are also using this opportunity to call on road safety officials alongside members of the public to always assist the blind and other disabled, especially in crossing roads,” She said.
One of the speakers, Helen Etukudo, a visually impaired person, who became blind after her national youth service, said her condition would not stop her from actualizing her dreams and aspirations.
In her lecture on the theme of this year’s celebration “Keep The Blind Moving”, Helen said the plight of physically challenged persons could be alleviated, with the support of government, individuals, groups and organisations.
Also speaking, the state Chairman, Joint Association of Persons with Disabilities, Mrs Offiong Edet, said the association cannot Akpabio and his wife, Ekaete, for always giving their welfare priority attention.
NAN reports that the celebration, which started with a road walk round some major roads in Uyo metropolis, was attended by the Commissioner for Economic Development, Mr Ante Okwong, and his counterpart in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Mr Ufot Nkangude. (NAN)