More than 500 Persons with Disabilities were on Monday, April 29, empowered with start-up grants and financial assistance to boost their businesses by the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel.
The empowerment programme organized through the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare took place at the Women Development Centre, IBB Way, Uyo, with disabled persons across the 31 local government area of the State.
Addressing the gathering, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Dr. Glory Edet, lauded the people for keeping faith and believing in the vision of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Dr. Edet explained that the items presented was in fulfilment of the Governor’s promise which he made to them during the International Day of People Living with Disabilities, adding that he was conscious of every citizen of Akwa Ibom, including the neglected.
While thanking the Governor for making sure the items were available to alleviate the people’s stress, the Women Affairs Commissioner emphasized that Akwa Ibom State is a “state where people living with disabilities are given a place of honour, and that Governor Udom is committed to carrying every cluster of the community along in his administration”.
She stressed on the Governor’s commitment to putting more smiles on the faces of the disabled by giving them incentives, financial assistance and empowerment items to improve their standard of living.
She them not to use their conditions as a yardstick to underestimate their abilities, feel inferior or be stripped of their dignity by anybody, adding that they should rather uphold and maintain their pride as every other person.
She appealed to the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the items given, adding that the Ministry will conduct follow-up checks to see their level of progress in the various empowerment areas.
Also, she thanked the wife of the Governor, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel whom she said is passionate about taking the disabled off the streets and giving them a right of good living again.
In his remark, the State President of the Joint Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), Deaconess Offiong Bassey, thanked Governor Udom for fulfilling his promise to them.
She recalled that a lot of their members had mocked the Governor when he promised giving them wheelchairs and financial assistance during his campaign. She expressed the gratitude of the other members of the association and said that the Governor’s fulfilment of his promises attested that his promise then was not to score political point.
She lauded the Women Affairs Commissioner for her continuous support, assistance and programmes initiated through her Ministry to help the disabled and less privileged in the society, as well as Mrs. Martha Udom for always looking out for them in prayers and financial aids.
The JONAPWD State President noted that the disabled community was grateful to God for bringing Governor Udom to Akwa Ibom at a time when they needed help, adding that his re-election is a proof that “when the righteous is on the throne, the people rejoice”.
Speaking on behalf of Physically Handicapped persons, the Chairman, Mr Edmund Ekanem explained that ‘handicapped persons from the state were in the limelight in the country and given respect courtesy of the leadership of Governor Udom Emmanuel and Dr. Glory Edet.
Mr Ekanem who expressed appreciation to the Governor for standing by his words and proving people wrong, encouraged the beneficiaries to show heart of appreciation to their benefactors. He added that those who did not benefit from the programme should not lose hope as Governor Udom and the Commissioner will ensure that they are carried along and given a sense of belonging in subsequent empowerments.
Others who reacted to the gesture were the Chairman, Association of the Deaf, Mr. Anietie Jackson; Mr. Timothy Itam of the Individuals with Disability Education Acts (IDEA) and the Permanent Secretary in the Women Affairs Ministry, Mrs. Margaret Edem, who had praises for the Governor, his wife and the Women Affairs Commissioner.
Speaking with Platinum.ng shortly after the event, the Ikono local government Secretary of the Joint Association of Persons with disabilities, and a beneficiary of the empowerment programme, expressed excitement at the Governor’s fulfilled promises, adding that it was a ‘testimony to his sincerity and magnanimity towards the disabled.
Another beneficiary of the programme, Mrs. Enobong Tom, said she had taken the governor’s promise for a mere political talk, not knowing he meant his words.
She appreciated Governor Udom for recognizing that the disabled were also humans and called on the State government to create job opportunities for them since most of them are graduates.
Highpoint of the event was the presentation of the empowerment items which included; set of hair dryers, sewing machines, weaving machines, 100 wheelchairs, barbing kits, clutches, generators, provisions, financial/ business grant, among others.