Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called for aggressive reversal of negative mindsets against albinism in Nigeria.
He made the call at at a virtual event, attended by distinguished personalities including the American Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, marking the World Albinism Day themed “Strength Beyond All Odds”, on Sunday, June 13.
In a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, noted that as a people, it is paramount to have conversations around the safety and enablement of citizens who live with Albinism.
According to the VP, ‘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 the albinism community, Osinbajo stated 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 admitted that ‘this is not going to be an easy task because superstition and sociocultural issues take a while to deal with, but we must aggressively begin to present counter-narratives to the socio-cultural misconceptions about albinism.’
He added that 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.’
Osinbajo while commending the convener of the event, Jake Epelle, noted that ‘he is one of the most eloquent and influential spokespersons for the rights, protection, and welfare of albinos in Nigeria and the world over.
‘I think it is the hard work of people like Pastor Jake and in response to the numerous challenges faced by the Albinism community in the country that led to the adoption in 2012, of the National Policy on Albinism.’
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.
In his remarks, Epelle commended the vice president for making out time to attend the virtual event despite being on transit.
Epelle told the VP: ‘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.’