European Union Ambassador to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen, has said that there is a need for more political inclusion and participation of people living with albinism in the electoral processes in the country.
Speaking at a media parley in Abuja, on the challenges of Albinism and the EU intervention in Nigeria, Karlsen, noted that a lot still needs to be done in ensuring a change in attitude and policies that affect people living with disabilities generally.
He said when it comes to the welfare of Albinos, what easily comes to mind is the provision of access at the voting centres, providing access to people on wheelchairs, helping the blind with magnifying glasses and a lot of other logistical matters that can be solved.
INEC he said is already taking steps to solve these challenges, but there is much more to do to in achieving political inclusion for the people living with disabilities and Albinism in particular.
“Making sure that they also get the chance to run for political offices and certainly that their voice is heard when policies are being created at all level,”the envoy said.
He further stated that lack of knowledge, conscience and lack of debate around the significant challenges of these people results to bullying, violence and in extreme cases killing of Albino.
He said the EU is collaborating with the Albino Foundation in Nigeria with the aim of providing support and creating more awareness around the conditions of Albinism with two strategic projects in Nigeria.
According to the ambassador “offices are being established in 3 parts of the country with staff combining persons with Albinism and people living with disabilities generally.
The second project is the support of a survey that will demonstrate more clearly the actual situation and challenges of people living with Albinism in the country”
Adding that the results of these projects will serve as a template for addressing the problems of Albinism in Africa at large.
He called on policies makers, employers of labor and Nigerians in general to reconsider their attitude and engagement with people living with Albinism, because they are human beings with equal rights.
In the same vein the Founder of The Albino Foundation Jake Epelle , a Non governmental organization sworn to the welfare of Albinos in Nigeria, said there are a lot of challenges facing the average albino in Nigeria, social challenges, social discrimination,educational disadvantages, health issues like skin cancer.
He stated that his foundation with support from the EU have engaged in projects like the provision of ointments that will reduce the chances of skin cancer, and increasing the presence of albinos in the political sphere.
“ we have met with political parties and we have been able to enter into their manifestos and influence some of their conditions that made it hitherto impossible for us to contest for elections”
He further said that the EU is interested in supporting political aspirants from albino, especially the albino women who constitute 60% of the albino population in Nigeria.
He added that “the EU is interested in how the free skin cancer treatment for the persons with albino can be sustained and how the ointment can be produced in Nigeria.”
He said the Albino Foundation has been able to push for some changes in the educational system, reduce societal discrimination and improve the perception of Albinism in Nigeria.