By Dada Ahmed in Lokoja.
A former kogi state chairman of the people with disabilities(PwDs),,Mal. ishaq Dan-Imam, has called on the the Kogi State Governnent to establish special school in each of the three Senatorial districts of the state for people with physical challenge to realize their educatuonal ambition and contribute to the development of the state..
He made the call on Thursday while making contribution to a one-day training workshop on”Disability Reporting in The Media”Get involved, Dialogue and Improve Project.
Our Correspondent reports that the workshop, organised by Stallion Times and supported by Mac Arthur Foundation aimed at training Journalists to report on issues bordering von PwDs, engage the participants on the imperative of reporting the issues in way that highlights the PwDs needs among others.
Dan-Imam, who obtained masters degree in Mass Communication and works as a Journalist in the state, said that there were many people with physical disabilities who strongly believe in exibiting their ability in disability but could not do so due to non availability of special school for them.
According to him, this category of people are in dire need of formal education and gainful employment to enable them acquire necessary skills and experiences and utilise that to make meaningful contribution to the society.
Married with eigh children, he expressed concern that many of his colleagues were also not lucky like him as they could not get women to marry, due to stigmatisation by the society,especially the parents.
He likened physical disability to HIV/AIDs, adding that “if you are not affected, you are infected,” and called on Nigerians to stop stigmatising people with disabilities, to reduce their psychological and cultural burden.
The physically challenged Journalist also called on his colleagues in media practise to focus attention on the issues concerning people with disabilities in their stories and features so that governnent and the larger society could appreciate the condition of this unfortunate segment of population and find lasting solution to their problems.
Earlier in his lecture, a seasoned Journalist and media consultant,Mr Anselm Okolo, stesseed the need for Journalists to develop interest in writing and highlighting issue-based events concerning the people with physical challenge.
This,he said,they could do through well researched stories and enlightening and educative features, to draw the attention of the public and private sectors to their conditions physical challenged in the society for meaningful solution.
He said in doing this,they must listen attentively and properly understand issues bordering on disability to be able to write informed opinion for the appropriate authorities to take necessary action.
“Let’s See people with physical challenge in us, because they have ability like us with capacity to develop the society,in spite their physical disabilities,’he said.
The Project Coordinator of the workshop, Ishaku Ahmed, in his address of welcome said the training is under the Participatory Governance and Media Literacy project, being implemented by Stallion Times Media Service in Kano and Kogi states.
“The G-DRIP is in collaboration with the Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism under the Collaborative Media Project (Collaborating for media independence and government accountability), with support from the MacArthur Foundation,”he said
Isiyaku Ahmed,who is also the
CEO/Editor-in-Chief Stallion Times Media Services, said the workshop was necessary because of the common and negative stereotypes of persons with disabilities which have penetrated the public, the media, and the governance eco-system in Kogi and other states of Nigeria.
He said the broad objectives of the exercise, among others,were also to promote issues-focused reporting on Disability to gain prominence in the mainstream media that would influence national action towards disability.
The Stallion boss added that the workshop was to train journalists to report on PwDs issues for print, broadcast, and digital media, and to engage journalists to report on PwDs issues in such away that highlight their concerns on everyday happening.
The Project Coordinator said that the idea of the training was also to provoke positive action that would amplify and make good issues of disability in Kogi state and Nigeria through investigative reports.
“The goal is to build the capacity of media practitioners in disability-inclusive reporting with the hope that it will be brought to the forefront to prompt government action for improved service delivery,”he added.
According to him, the challenges the media face in terms of funding and poor capacity is in its unique position to reshape the public image and improve the living condition of persons with disabilities, through research and proper reporting of critical issues that affect people with disabilities in Nigeria.
The Project Coordinator also told the participants that the standpoint was that, Journalists have a role to play in the media space to professionally increase representation of PwDs, and reinforce positive thinking, rather than portray PwDs in stigmatizing ways, as objects of pity, or as mere statistics.
“It is in view of this and in recognition of your contribution towards promoting Gender and Social Inclusion in governance and driving professionalism in the media space that we have invited you to this knowledge transfer training,” he said.
He said the exercise was also meant for the participants to share experiences, participate actively, learn and report the issues concerning people with physical challenge, to make kogi state a better place for the minority and marginalized groups.
Ahmed urged the participants to keep the discussion at the workshop alive and step down the knowledge to their colleagues in the industry that had no opportunity to grace the occasion.
Our Correspondent reports that many Journalists, drawn from the electronic, print and digital media in Lokoja attended the workshop.