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Giving lifeline to drug addicts, persons with disabilities

The Vocational and Rehabilitation Centre of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) recently graduated 35 persons who were hitherto unable to cater for themselves due to either disability or drug abuse. CALEB ONWE reports

 

The graduands were all beaming with smiles as the ceremony gradually came to a close. They were happy to have had the opportunity to acquire some skills that would help them live better lives.

 

Before they enrolled in the programme at the Vocational and Rehabilitation Centre, Kuchiko-Bwari, in Bwari Area Council, Federal Capital Territory, life was rather meaningless. Inside Abuja learnt that a number of them were victims of drug abuse and were considered useless to the society.

 

Others were people living with various forms of disabilities, who had also suffered neglect and stigma for no fault of theirs. In communities across Nigeria, these two categories of persons were usually abandoned by friends and relatives.

 

The danger has always been that when you leave such persons to their fate, idleness, loneliness and depression set in and these conditions could become a breeding ground for unbelievable social vices.

 

Therefore, the opportunity to acquire entrepreneurial skills to fend for themselves is a lifeline these graduands would continue to appreciate for the rest of their lives. Abayor Bomshima, a graduand of the programme and a former drug addict, was not just elated that the long awaited graduation finally came but testified that his stay at the Rehabilitation Centre was worthwhile for him and others.

 

Bomshima came into the Rehab Centre , almost as a ‘ helpless and hopeless ‘ case, having abused hard drugs, became vulnerable and incapacitated almost to the point of affecting his mind. The seemingly ‘ impossible case’ eventually was made possible by the professionalism and patience deployed by workers at the Rehab Centre, whodevotedextra timeto him.

 

His life was not only transformed but his lifeline began with the skills he acquiredinmetalfabricationtraining. Bomshima said: “The rehab programme has completely made me a better person and I now realized that there is more to life than indulging in drugsandothersocialvicesandI promise to work hard with my new skills”.

 

Chinonso Utulor, a person living with disability, and a beneficiary, arrived the graduation venue in very    high spirits. Apparently, the lifeline programme did not only restore her lost self-esteem but has added value to her life.

 

 

Utulor said the society’s attitudes to persons living with disabilities stole her self-esteem and impacted on her subconscious the mentality of uselessness.

 

According toher, thehopeof becoming useful to herself and thesociety has not only become a reality but that she was more hopeful that the lifeline will help her to positively impact on the society by contributing to the economic development of Nigeria. Inside Abuja learnt that despite this young lady’s disability, she was one of the outstanding graduands from the fashion designing section of the Rehab Centre.

 

“Before now, I had neither skills nor the hope of acquiring one. So, when I heard about the centre, I decided to utilizetheopportunity togooutand make something out for myself. “I will ensure that some persons are taken off the streets and also assist my family”.

 

Utulor noted. The FCT Vocational and Rehabilitation Centre was established many years ago to cater for the needs of persons living with disabi  ity and other victims of social vices. The 35 beneficiaries of this 7th graduation after about five years were trained in different departments, including metal fabrication, fashion design, electronics, welding, filing machine and leatherwork.

 

Minister of State for the FCT, Dr. Ramatu Aliyu, who spoke at the graduation ceremony, assured the people that the administration would be committed to effective service delivery, by providing the needed support for persons with disabilities.

 

Represented at the event by her Special Assistant on Social Development, Mrs. Simisola Ayoade, the minister called on the granduands to believe in themselves and take advantage of the skills they have acquired to be useful citizens. She urged them to make proper and commercial use of the starter packs given to them. She also pledged that the administration would broaden its scope of providing entrepreneurial skill acquisition with profitable value to persons living with disabilities.

 

“Government is further taking series of actions in advancing the inclusion of persons with disabilities as enshrined in the Sustainable  Development Goals agenda of the United Nations which is aimed at improving the wellbeing of persons with disabilities as it relates to the 17 SDGs with the ability of opening up communication, independence and improved quality of livelihood for persons with disabilities.

 

“Furthermore, the Administration is taking additional steps to reinforce the battle against the phenomenon of discrimination which constitutes one of the main challenges that people with disabilities face at every level of society,” she said.

 

The beneficiaries, who were trained to acquire different entrepreneurial skills, were gifted with several starter packs, including filing machines, industrial sewing machines, bench grinders, among other equipment. According to the officials of the Centre, the equipment and startup capital distributed to the 35 beneficiaries is valued at over N4million. Inside Abuja learnt that the last graduation before this one took place in 2015.

 

Director, Social Welfare, Social Development Secretariat of the FCTA, Dr. Felicia Nwogu, explained that the delay was due to some administrative challenges that needed to be sorted out. “For about five years now, we have not been able to graduate due to one reason or the other.

 

Before now, we have had six graduation ceremonies. Then, the mandate was on the NGO, Society against Prostitution and Child Labour Eradication in Nigeria, SAPLAN.

 

There was however one or two anomalies that government was not satisfied with while SAPLAN was in charge. We had some administrative issues which constituted a major drawback to the graduation.

 

“However, going forward, we hope to have graduation ceremonies annually, but of course, we don’t expect government to do everything on its own. Some NGOs or institutions can take up this graduation, give the gradaunds starter packs and they can take care of themselves,” Nwogu said.

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