The founder/CEO of AK Global and Inclusion Magazine, Hussaini Abdulrahman, said he will partner stakeholders to improve lives of persons with disabilities. While thanking President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the disability bill, Abdulrahman, who also holds the title of Wakili Arewa Nupe, told Tobias Lengnan Dapam, in an interview that all states and local governments should help people with disabilities. He also spoke on other sundry issues affecting people with disabilities in the country. Excerpts:
Sir, as someone who has been in the media for a very long time, why did you choose the path of inclusion magazine?
It has always been my dream to address the challenges of people with disabilities. These people are passing through serious challenges in our community with no help. It is not as if they offend God, but it is His own way of telling us that he is in charge. I feel it is our responsibility to take care of them. Inclusion magazine is a platform that will address certain challenges that people with disabilities are facing. After discussing with some of my staff, we felt the need to come up with a platform that will address their needs.
We also know that a lot of money is needed for most of these people on daily basis to be healthy. For instance, physiotherapy for a special need child is 3000 to 7000 naira per hour. If the therapists come and the child is not in the mood the parent will still pay. Some of the children have hole in their hearts and they need constant hospital visit. Government should make speeches therapy free to help many parents who can not afford the bills. We have many of them in government hospitals and if they can help, we will be grateful. They need to be taught everything and the teacher or the parent needs to be patient with them because they are different from other children.
Irrespective of the conditions, parents should know that the children are human beings; they should see it as an avenue to take care of them. The parents should be caring and observant so as to better take care of the children. Also, the blind, the cripple, and those with autism have their different challenges. We need all the necessary help to address their needs.
What do we expect to see?
Currently, inclusion magazine is monthly, with 24 hours online publication. Our main aim is to set inclusive policy bench mark for people with disabilities; to be a voice for them so that all relevant stakeholders will come up and accept them. We are also canvassing for government to intervene and provide necessary assistance for people with disabilities.
For instance, autism is a major challenge and most people are not aware. It is a mental condition present from early childhood, characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.
Autism has been studied extensively and increasing research is indicating that nutrients like Glutathione and Vitamin C could be useful for supporting some of the problems associated with this complex condition.
Children with autism have low levels of glutathione, and often have impaired glutathione detox pathways.
Some of the symptoms of autism include; Delayed learning of language, difficulty in making eye contact and difficulty in holding a conversation.
Others are; Lack of interest in making friendships, poor motor skills, repetitive mannerisms, fixation on objects and lack of spontaneous or make-believe play.
Also, it is a known fact that some children with learning disorder read upside down and cannot compete with other normal children. People call them dullards and all sorts of names, but it is only a learning disorder that can be managed.
There are also others with speech defects, some of them have hearing defects while many others have holes in their hearts. We are advocating for them because we know that most people are not aware of what they are passing through and how to help them out of their current challenges.
What is the level of acceptance?
We started recently and the acceptance is massive. We have met various stakeholders both local and international. People are very happy with what we are doing and we intend to do more. We recently had event to celebrate them on children’s day; many groups came and they were happy with what we are doing.
How can you give teeth to the laws on disability?
It is one of our objectives; to write the wrongs of the past. We are glad that the President has signed the disability bill; we intend to go to states and partner with state governors to appeal to them on the need to key in. We will also partner the state governments on various skills acquisition programmes to help them learn trades. Most of these people are gifted in various ways, we will explore this areas and make them useful to themselves and the society at large.
How would you address the stigma against people with disability?
We want to have a programme that will bring both parents and children to partner effectively. They need to known what the children need so that they can take care of them effectively and train them in school.
Unfortunately, some parents have not yet come to terms with certain realities about their children. On our part, we will do our best to unite them. We also discover that some parents withdraw completely from society, and we try to talk to them and bring them out of the situation. We advice them to go to hospital and accept the child for who he is and also ensure his/her education.
Special needs come with different variance. Some have vocal impairment and they are different in their ways. Their education is different from other children. In most cases, such children are being accessed and organize individualized lesson plan because some of them are slow to learn and cannot cope with other normal children.
Cognitive skills need serious development and teaching is different, some have different pots and it is not easy to cater for them.
It is a great divide and it varies across homes. In poor homes, it is a serious challenge while in rich homes, it is only the trauma that people complain about. For those in rich homes, the children are taken to boarding schools, they have special nanny and someone to take care of them in school. But the poor person cannot afford all these for his/her child and it becomes a very big problem.
Irrespective of the conditions, parents should know that the children are human beings, they should see it as an avenue to take care of them. The parents should be caring and observant so as to better take care of the children. There is a face of denial, but they need to come out of it. Some went through suicidal stage and blame themselves that probably they didn’t do certain things right during pregnancy, some feel like killing the child while some kill the child eventually.
Are you in partnership with local NGOs?
We have partnered National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, JONAPWD and many others on how to improve lives of persons with disabilities. The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Mr. Lulu and the management staff have been supportive. We have met and discussed various areas that will help in addressing the challenges of people with disabilities. We have also met with the deaf and the blind. We are also comparing notes with a lot of other NGOs so as to see the areas of partnership.
What type of school do you want for them?
We advocate inclusive education for all children regard of their level of disabilities. We believe that inclusiveness is the key to eradicating stigma against people with disabilities. We are working towards bridging the gaps and create a society where all people will have the same rights.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
We intend be a National paper reporting people with disabilities. With what we have started, by the Grace of God, we will cover all areas and increase readership. We will work assiduously to place issues of people with disabilities on the front burner.