Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that there was an urgent need to present aggressive counter-narratives to the socio-cultural misconceptions about Albinism.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Monday, in Abuja, quoted the vice president as saying this at a virtual event to mark World Albinism Day, with the theme, “Strength Beyond All Odds.’’
At the virtual event held June 13 and attended by a number of distinguished personalities, including diplomats such as the American Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, Osinbajo participated upon landing in Lagos from Abuja, on his way to a number of events later in Lagos.
According to Osinbajo, it is paramount to have conversations around the safety and enablement of citizens who live with Albinism.
“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 those with albinism, there is 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 sociocultural perceptions of Albinism that are rooted in ignorance and superstition can finally be laid to rest.”
The vice president said that it would not be an easy task because superstition and socio-cultural issues took a while to deal with, but stakeholders must aggressively begin to present counter-narratives to the socio-cultural misconceptions about the condition.
“Secondly, interventions made must be designed to improve the lives of people living with Albinism.
“The time is now 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.’’
He commended the convener of the event, Mr Jake Eppele, for his advocacy for albinos, describing him as one of the most eloquent and influential spokespersons for the rights, protection, and welfare of albinos in Nigeria and globally.
“I think it is the hard work of people like Eppele and in response to the numerous challenges faced by the Albino community in the country that led to the adoption in 2012, of the National Policy on Albinism”, Osinbajo said.
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.
“Subsequently, in 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the inauguration of a technical committee to review the policy in order to assess its success since implementation and facilitate the access of persons living with Albinism to social services, particularly education and healthcare,’’ he said.
In his remarks, Eppele commended the vice president for making out time to attend the virtual event, despite being on transit, describing Osinbajo as a man of his 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.
“I also want to say that you have made history by becoming the first vice president globally, to address persons with Albinism on this day and I have it on record,” Eppele said.