Abuja – The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Disability Matters, Dr Samuel Ankeli, has charged Nigerians to be optimistic, diligent and confident that Nigeria would rise again.
Ankeli made the call in Abuja on Friday at a reception held for him by the Kpakpando Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).
He urged Nigerians to support the physically-challenged in the country, saying that life was not limited to physical ability.
Encouraging the physically-challenged not to be dampened by their condition, Ankeli, who is blind, said, “There’s a great hope for Nigeria. The race of life is not for the strong but by God’s mercy.
“I was once a sprinter and a black belter in Judo, but suddenly the curtains came down. I refused to be discouraged and now I’m still being celebrated.
“Nigerians, let’s celebrate our own. Life is not in the physical ability, it is in the mind.
“ It’s time to celebrate our strengths. Stop murmuring and complaining. If you’ve sold your birthright, collect it; whatever right you have, you have a right to be responsible.
“ Be optimistic, be diligent in whatever you find at your hands to do. Your work will find you out; the time is now to put hands on deck to make the country great again.
“ Nigeria will scale through; the blind and the deaf are already leading, everyone is important.’’
On his appointment as an aide to the president, he said, “President Muhammadu Buhari is a champion; others made mistakes but he corrected it’’.
In his speech, Mr Osita Izunaso, founder of the foundation and National Organising Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), lauded Buhari for appointment Ankeli as aide.
He assured that Ankeli would play a good role to ensure that the president assented to the Disability Bill, which had been passed by the National Assembly.
“We will not stop our advocacy to see that the Bill is passed and when that is done, we can now have a Commission for People Living With Disabilities (PLWD).
“Three of the eight paralympians are from Kpakpando Foundation. Our paralympians did not just win gold but broke existing world records.
“We like to refer to PLWD as special citizens because those that we think are able are not. If we say some of them should run from here to the gate they cannot,’’ Izunaso said.
Giving a background of the organisation, he said that it was set up in 2006 to enhance living for PLWD, and had over 2,000 members in all local governments in the country.
In his remark, Mr Monday Imokafi, President of Paralympians, commended Buhari for “keeping to his promise to appoint a person living with disability to a position of authority’’.
“We also urge him to sign the Disability Bill into law so that PLWD can enjoy dividends of democracy,’’ he said.
Edited by Morayo Omolade and Controlled by Olisa Ifeajika