By Anita Eboigbe
Abuja – The Federal Government has affirmed its commitment to inclusive quality education and employment opportunities for the blind and visually impaired persons (VIPs).
It also just urged Nigerians not to despise but assist them as respectable members of society.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, made these declarations in his office when the blind and visually impaired community visited him.
The visit was part of the celebration of the 2019 International White Cane and Safety Day marked by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) and the Nigerian Association of the Blind (NAB) on Oct. 15.
The SGF, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, General Services Office (GSO), Mr Olusegun Adekunle, further assured them that government would facilitate speedy passage of the revised Copyright Bill.
The Bill would domesticate the provisions of the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for blind persons, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled.
The SGF assured the visually impaired community that the Federal Government shared the aspirations of the physically challenged people for more employment and quality education in the country.
He stressed that the government would ensure that blind and visually impaired persons have access to published materials, to enhance their literacy in line with provisions of the Marrakesh Treaty.
He noted that the ratification in 2017 of four major copyright treaties showed this administration’s commitment to a wholesome and functional copyright system.
According to him, it will serve the needs of Nigerians and grow the creative sector for national development.
“The white cane is a symbol of strength in addressing challenges. We do not see disability in being blind or visually impaired. The blind have achieved much in spite of their physical challenge.
“Among them are authors, administrators, lawyers, doctors, and so on. I call on all Nigerians to respect and support everyone with the white cane,” he stated.
NAN recalls that on Aug. 24, President Muhammadu Buhari ratified four copyright treaties namely; the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT).
He also ratified the Beijing Treaty on Audio-Visual Performances; and the Marrakesh Treaty.
In his remarks, the Director-General of NCC, Mr John Asein, stated that the Commission would live up to its mandate to make the copyright system work for the blind people in Nigeria.
Asein expressed gratitude to the Government for all the efforts to make the blind enjoy fullness of life in Nigeria.
He said, “I thank the President for signing the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act and for ratifying the four WIPO Treaties, including the Marrakesh Treaty”.
The DG said the Commission would partner with all relevant arms of Government and stakeholders, to ensure the early passage of the Copyright Act.
He assured the blind and visually impaired that modalities were being worked out to enable the blind to have easier access to published works from all over the world.
“We will do everything in our power to ensure that blind and visually impaired students do not miss out on quality education.
“We are committed to helping blind and visually impaired Nigerians to read,” he stated. (NAN)