From: NKIRU ODINKEMELU
Founder of The Albino Foundation, Mr. Jake Epelle, is excited that he would be exercising his first franchise at the age of 56.
This came to being after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) approved the request to institutionalise preferential voting rights for persons with albinism and persons living with disability made to it by The Albinos Foundation.
Epelle, 56, but who had never voted before now said the approval meant a lot to him as it would afford he and his community the opportunity to exercise his franchise for the first time.
Speaking to journalists at the Foundation Laying Ceremony of Oliveth Bible Church in Lagos, Epelle said the process would further integrate the vulnerable group into the electoral process.
“We made a request to INEC to institutionalize preferential voting right for persons with albinism, including persons with disability. It has taken us about two years to get that approval. What that means is that I am 56, I have never voted but now, I will be given access to vote and leave so that I do not have to stand in the sun, I will also be given magnifier to see who I am voting for. So, it is a privilege that again, Nigeria is championing that.
Explaining further, he noted that, “With this, the vulnerable groups are integrated into the electoral process. I think it is a good thing that for the first time, the vulnerable community would be given the opportunity to vote without any harassment or discrimination, giving them the opportunity to vote and leave so that they are not vulnerable to attacks or the harsh weather.”
On other pursuits of his Foundation, he noted that they were seeing results.
“As it relates to my community, we are seeing results. Nigeria is the first country that is treating albinos with skin cancer for free and history will be made by the 23 and 24th when Nigeria will be the first country to give an Agency to the community of albinos and that will happen at the National Assembly, where our bill will be introduced for public hearing and I am sure that we will get the necessary approval.
“As we speak, 8 Ambassadors of different countries have signed to follow me to the NASS, so we are looking forward to that day, and we trust God that it will be a reality.
“Unknown to a lot of people, God has used the team that I led to write four policies for this country today: The National Albinism Policy, which is the first in the whole world; the Special Education Policy; Inclusive Education Policy and the currently, the National Eye care Policy.
“Last year, we had 170 children with albinism in school, this year we have 70 and by the end of this year, we will have 200 children with albinism in school. With education, you are on a pathway to success, when you are successful, you have money and the colour of money does not discriminate”, said Epelle.