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I married a deaf man to avoid maltreatment, gossip – Edeh Nnadi, female lawyer

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I married a deaf man to avoid maltreatment, gossip – Edeh Nnadi, female lawyer

Nigeria’s first deaf female lawyer, Catherine Chinyere Edeh-Nnadi is a study in courage. An alumnus of University of Ilorin, Kwara state and Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, USA, the Enugu state-born advocate of inclusive education is also a disability rights campaigner, social entrepreneur and motivational speaker.
The founder/coordinator, Voice of Disability Initiative (VDI) spoke to Saturday Sun through a sign language interpreter on the challenges faced by deaf students in pursuit of tertiary education, gender violence and other issues. MAGNUS EZE conducted the interview in Enugu.

Why are you pushing for inclusive education in Enugu State University of Science and Technology?

My sole aim is to give back to the society and because there was no such facility in the whole of South East, I had to travel all the way to University of Ilorin, so I decided to bring this to the South East because many deaf people abandoned their education at secondary level. That’s why I initiated the project of floating the deaf resource centre in Enugu State University of Science and Technology. Luckily for me, the good people of Enugu state were interested; the Vice Chancellor of ESUT, the registrar, Speaker of Enugu State House of Assembly and many others liked the idea. We wrote proposal to ESUT and it was approved; we’ve also sourced for a professional sign language interpreter to become the pioneer sign language interpreter there. She was the best graduating student of sign language in the University of Jos and hails from Enugu state. ESUT recently appointed her and she is undergoing training, very soon she would occupy her position.

But the challenge now is how to get deaf students to enroll in ESUT; many are frightened that ESUT fees are high and that they don’t have the facility to manage deaf students, they are still having the erroneous feeling that it’s waste of resources, how do we engage sign interpreters without having deaf students get admission. That’s why we have decided to step up the advocacy to let Nigerians know that a deaf resource centre has been established in ESUT and encourage parents of deaf children who have finished secondary school to allow them seek admission in ESUT.

We also have the plan that certain number of deaf students that will be the first to get admission will be tuition free till graduation as a way of encouraging others.

What was your experience as a deaf student pursing education in University of Ilorin and even in the United States of America?

Before you get admission in University of Ilorin, you will visit the deaf resource centre in the university; they will discuss with you and it’s the centre that will decide whether you’ll be admitted or not after going through your records. So, after securing the admission, as a student, you will go to your department, copy the timetable and submit to the deaf resource centre. It’s the centre that will take the responsibility of sharing you among the interpreters using the timetables submitted by the various deaf students. You don’t need to run to the centre to remind them anytime you have lecture as the sign language interpreter assigned to you will always use the timetable to be in the class even ahead of you.

How many deaf students were in your class both at Unilorin and the law school?
I was the only deaf law student in my class but before me, the institution had produced a deaf lawyer and the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife was the first to produce deaf lawyer. But I am the first deaf female lawyer in the country.

I must confess that there were challenges and frustrations but I didn’t give up. I was encouraged by the kind of assistance I received from especially the law faculty in Unilorin.

In fact, once the lecture is over, my interpreter will return to the centre and I will remain in the faculty; so, whenever I missed lectures, my lecturers and classmates usually assist by providing me with the lecture notes to copy.

But my greatest challenge was in the law school because there was neither sign language interpreter nor deaf resource centre there. I had to start from the scratch. When I applied for law school admission, I had to go to the headquarters in Bwari Abuja. I learnt that they have what they called special centre for special students, but they had not handled my kind of case. The first deaf person that was called to bar finished from the Lagos campus and used to hide his disability but I don’t hide my disability. So, I came to sensitise them that I was a deaf student and there was serious argument as to my eligibility. The Head of Department, Academics then, suggested that he will take me to the National Hospital, Abuja for cochlear implant so that I will be fit to study at the law school but I turned down the offer because I came for my studies not for cochlear implant.

After much argument, I was privileged to have a course mate who studied abroad and knew how they handle special students abroad. The person accompanied me and we approached the school management and asked them to provide me with sign language interpreter, that it’s my right. It was then that the management of the law school employed sign language interpreter.

What do you tell the government about people with special case like you?

I am telling them to stop playing politics with us. Every administration that comes will start afresh to push for the disability bill in the National Assembly; the bill will pass all the legislative stages but they will keep dribbling us. When it gets to the President for assent, we will hear one story or the other until that administration goes, then when another comes, they will begin again to waste resources without achieving anything.

There is so much discrimination against people with disability in Nigeria, the educational system is not inclusive. Some schools on their own decided to be inclusive and not through the effort of government but thank God that President Muhammadu Buhari recently assented to the disability rights bill. I believe with this national law protecting the disabled in Nigeria, it will be compulsory for all the schools

to upgrade to inclusive education in the country. And when the disabled people graduate, there should be jobs for them and not the kind of frustration that all of us are facing today.

What has the Enugu state government done to help inclusive education?

Through relentless effort, a lot of graduates were employed into the state service during the recent employment exercise. Besides, this effort to make ESUT inclusive is also with the moral support of the Enugu state government. Also, we are working on producing the disability rights bill which was earlier abandoned; we want to reintroduce it in the state House of Assembly and seek the governor’s assent.

What’s your take on disability-based gender violence?

I decided that I must marry a deaf person like me because I didn’t want for instance where the family of my husband will be a challenge to me, maltreat me and gossip about my disability. They can also influence their son to maltreat me; I know the society we live in and how it views physically challenged people, the discrimination. That’s why I decided to marry somebody like me.

But since I got married, my husband is from Enugu state too, not that we’ve not had differences, but we sort them out by ourselves. We’re living happily and promoting each other. But if a woman with disability marries a man without disability, no matter how they love each other, it will get to a point that the man will start maltreating her because he will say that she has become some form of obstacle to his success or other things. It will take much to keep that marriage; the lady will have to endure so much and with time, he will turn her into a punching bag.

Even in government, a lot is against girls and women with disability. They know me and how stubborn I am in the Enugu Government House; I don’t just take nonsense. Women with disabilities suffer a lot even in the hospital especially the pregnant ones.

The case is worse if you are pregnant and on wheel chair. They will say look at, this one is pregnant as if it is a sin for somebody on wheel chair to get pregnant. Then when the person is deaf, it becomes another matter altogether if there is no interpreter.

Even in an emergency, when they hear that the person is deaf, they will say please stay aside that they have people to attend to. All these increase the mortality of women with disabilities; so much challenge, so much discrimination that we must all join hands to fight.

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USAID begins Covid-19 testing in Imo rural areas

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USAID averts 25,000 unwanted pregnancies in Ebonyi, Kogi

…Umuagwo Varsity of Agric kicks-off October

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun Covid-19 testing in the 27 Local Government Areas of Imo State, “in a bid to reduce the impact of community spread of the virus in the rural areas of the state.

The Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Declan Mbadiwe Emelumba disclosed this in Owerri while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the Weekly Executive Council meeting presided over by Governor Hope Uzodimma on Wednesday.

Chief Emelumba said so far, the USAID officials have carried out reasonable number of testing in Njaba LGA and reported that all those tested came out negative and that the council prayed that the result from other Local Government Areas will be the same.

He announced that the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) has approved the take off of the Imo State University for Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Umuagwo in October this year.

According to him, the approval underscores the efforts which the Imo State Government ably led by Governor Hope Uzodinma has made towards the establishment of a second university for the state.

Recently, the NUC panel was in Imo State to carry out the necessary verification exercises on the state facilities, human and physical infrastructures.

Mr. Declan Emelumba, who was flanked by the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Bernard Ikegwuoha, Commissioner for Health Dr. Damaris Osunkwo and the Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser to the Governor Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku, informed that the Executive Council is happy that something new is happening in the Education Sector of the State.

Emelumba said that the Imo State University of Science and Environmental Sciences, Umuagwo will take off by October when other universities would be resuming for a new academic session.

In the same vein, the Council has approved the immediate relocation of Faculty of Engineering Imo State University Owerri to its permanent site at Okigwe, stressing that Government has put all processes and facilities on ground to ensure the immediate take–off of the faculty.

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Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital

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Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM  Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital

The Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku has visited Mr. Ogechi Iwu, a journalist with Osiza FM.

The media man is hospitalized at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri over complications from diabetes that led to his right leg being amputated.

Mr. Nwachuku said the visit was to show solidarity on behalf of Governor Uzodimma to his professional colleague, assuring him of their prayers, particularly that of his principal, and the prayers of Mr. Iwu’s numerous friends and well wishers who are touched by his plight.

“I am here on behalf of my principal to associate with him in this time of health challenge and to encourage him not to see the sickness as a death sentence.”

Oge Iwu at fmc

L-R: Chief Akaraonye, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku with Ogechi Iwu during the visit

Mr. Nwachuku urged Mr. Iwu to continue in the high spirit he saw him and trust God for his total recovery “because healing is a thing of mind and when a sick person is in high spirit the patient gets recovered quickly.”

The spokesman of the Governor promised to bring the plight of the journalist to the attention of his principal, and assured that the Governor will, in his usual manner of one with milk of human sympathy, show concern over Iwu’s plight.

Earlier, Mr. Iwu thanked the CPS/Media Adviser, the State Chairman of NUJ, Imo State, Chief Christopher Akaraonye and other journalists who were on the entourage, for coming to identify with him on his sick bed, and assured that God in his infinite mercy will quicken his recovery.

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Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council

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Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council

Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma has inaugurated a new Governing Council, for the Imo State University, IMSU, Owerri.

At the inauguration ceremony on Monday, August 31, the governor named Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji as the Chairman of the Governing Council and Pro-Chancellor of the University.

Other members of the Council include: Chief Leo Stan Ekeh, Chief Tony Ezenna, Prof. (Ven.) Chinedu Nebo, Sir. Louis Ezeigwe, Chief Engr. Ernest Nwapa, Dr. (Mrs.) Uwandu Uzoma, Ugoeze Victoria Adaku Ekezie, Prof. Adaobi Obasi (Vice Chancellor) and others.

Speaking at the inauguration, Governor Uzodimma said the choice of the members is to infuse fresh air into the university because “It is in dire need to bounce back to reckoning.”
He added that the choice of the members was because they have carved a niche for themselves in their chosen fields of endeavour and that they have earned solid reputation as men and women of substance in their individual trade, indices that qualified them for the appointment.

He challenged the members to bring their reputation to bear on the University, bearing in mind the task for good quality scholarship in Imo State University as well as service to humanity.

The Governor urged the members to deploy their individual accomplishments, excellence, expertise, passion for service as effectively as necessary to actualize the dream of his administration of having a highly reputable University comparable to the best Universities in the World.

He also requested the Council to “restore in words and deeds the motto of Imo State University, which is Excellence in Service”.

“Imo State University currently is a classical example of a failed University,” Governor Uzodimma said but strongly believed that “with a star studded Governing Council such as the one inaugurated there is no doubt that Imo is on the track to realize the dreams of her founding fathers.”

He further enjoined the Council members to quickly hit the ground running and come up with policies and programmes that will reassure Imo people that the University that made them proud 20 years back is on track as he assured them of Government partnership in this regard.

In an acceptance speech, on behalf of the Council, the Chairman, Most Rev. Ugorji who is the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia thanked the Governor for the absolute confidence reposed in them by giving them the assignment and acknowledged that though the task is daunting he has a strong belief that with the calibre of members of the Council and support of the management, staff and students the University will be returned to a centre of excellence which was the dream of the founding fathers.

He said that Imo State University deserves the best and that he and his members as inaugurated will work acidulously to ensure that the target of the governor in making Imo State University one of the best universities in Africa is realised.

He congratulated fellow members and promised that God’s willing, they will not fail the government and people of Imo State.

Present at the inauguration were the Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku, the Speaker Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu, and other members of the expanded State Executive Council.

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