The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Disability Matters, Dr Samuel Ankeli, has advised Nigerians to be optimistic, diligent and confident that Nigeria will rise again.
Ankeli, a blind man but not from birth, gave the advice in Abuja on Friday at an event in his honour by the Kpakpando Foundation, a non-governmental organisation.
“There is a great hope for Nigeria. The race of life is not for the swift or the strong but by God’s mercy.
“I was once a sprinter and a black belter in judo but suddenly the curtains came down. I refused to be discouraged and now, I’m still being celebrated.
“Nigerians, let’s celebrate our own. Life is not in the physical ability, it is in the mind. It’s time to celebrate our strengths. Stop murmuring and complaining.
“If you’ve sold your birthright, collect it; whatever right you have, you have a right to be responsible. Be optimistic; be diligent in whatever you find at your hands to do.
“Your work will find you out. The time is now to put hands on deck to make the country great again, Nigeria will scale through.
“The blind and the deaf are already leading, everyone is important,’’ he said.
On his appointment as an aide to the president, Ankeli described President Muhammadu Buhari as a champion, saying that others made mistakes but he corrected them.
Also speaking, Mr Osita Izunaso, the founder of the foundation and the National Organising Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, lauded Buhari for the appointment of Ankeli.
Izunaso encouraged the gathering and pledged that Ankeli would play a good role to ensure that the president assented to the disability bill, which had been passed by the National Assembly.
“We will not stop our advocacy to see that the bill is passed and when that is done, we can have a commission for people living with disabilities.
“Three of the eight paralympians are from Kpakpando Foundation. Our paralympians did not just win gold but broke existing world records.
“We like to refer to people with disabilities as special citizens because those that we think are able are not. If we say some of them should run from here to the gate they cannot.’’
Izunaso said that the organisation was set up in 2006 to enhance the lives of people living with disabilities and had more than 2,000 members in all the local governments of the country.
In his remark, Mr Monday Imokafi, the President of the paralympians, lauded Buhari for “keeping to his promise to appoint a person living with disability to a position of authority’’.
“We also urge him to sign the disability bill into law so that their dependants can enjoy the dividends of democracy,’’ Imokafi said.