By Jim Pressman, Freelance Gender Reporter
A National Policy document on Albinism in Nigeria is due out in 60 days in Nigeria from September 4, 2012 date of the inauguration of a 20-member committee to produce it. The Drafting Committee headed by a Director in the Federal Ministry of Education, has as Vice-Chairman, Dr. Jake Epelle, National President and founder of the Nigerian Albino Foundation, which since it took off in2006 has been focused on addressing the plight of Albinos especially regarding risks of skin cancer from exposure to unkind climactic conditions.
Presiding over the inauguration ceremony in Abuja, Minister of state for Education, Barrister Ezenwo Nyesome Wike, recognized the plight of albinos, who he said are often “victims of segregation,stigmatization and discriminationfuelled by cultural beliefs and misconceptions” adding that most disturbing are “the socio-economic problems and disadvantages which albinos and other persons with disabilities face as a result of these negative societaltendencies and attitudes towards them.”
Wike said the ministry and this administration recognize the rights of albinos and will work to protect, promote and respect them, stressing the importance of the inauguration of the Drafting Committee to the Federal Government.
He said the Committee should produce the document and go on to develop an implementation roadmap and programmes in the interest of albinos, as well as identify global precedents in other climes for such activity.
The minister commended the effort of Dr. Epelle and the Albino Foundation despite all odds, in promoting the rights and welfare of albinos, and charged the Drafting Committee to do their level best to produce the draft document within 60 days from the inauguration.
Dr. Epelle, the Albino Foundation boss promised the Minister and Nigerians that the Committee would not be a white elephant one, as they were set to begin right after a series of seven meetings which in 30 days should produce a draft document.
He thanked the minister for striving hard to leave a legacy, challenging the audience: “What will you be remembered for, after today?”