Home Feature PwDs Despondency, Frustrations in Search of Formal Education

PwDs Despondency, Frustrations in Search of Formal Education

by Isiyaku Ahmed
0 comment

By Ishaq Dan-imam

As elsewhere, the painstaking efforts, and attendant depression young Nigerians living with disabilities face in their bid to acquire the ‘costly’ formal education is advertently part of the trauma of living with disabilities in Kogi State and beyond.

Most of us have had a deprived childhood as most of our parents, relatives and Nigerians despise children with disabilities out of the erroneous belief that we have no economic value to our families and society; we are regarded and treated as liabilities rather than ‘human assets’.

We are despondent; the abandoned children; the despaired, hopeless and sad children of fate with shattered and unfulfilled dreams; dreams of valor, love, adventure, leadership, and better living conditions.

We struggle hard but vainly to eke out a living in an unjust Nigerian state full of absurdities of life such as the deprivation of the physically challenged where both the able-bodied and handicapped grapple with a poverty of varying degrees.

The depts of depression among students with special needs in our tertiary institutions of learning are born out of societal and parental neglect.

The insidious effects on our health, life expectancy, and socio-economic well-being are painfully clear to all.

To some, a better life for the physically challenged remains a mirage despite the interventions from the government at all levels, since the full realization of our social improvement is miles or decades away.

Though there is a good start from the Federal Government in the form of a National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) and the legislative instrument on discrimination against persons with Disabilities.

My name is Ishaq Dan-Imam. I am physically challenged.

I attended Christian Mission in Many Lands (CMML) Special School Iyale, Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State for my junior secondary education and Bishop Delisle College Lokoja for senior secondary education.

I have a Diploma in Mass Communication from the University of Jos. BSc from Kogi State University and Master’s Degree from Bayero University, Kano.

I also hold a national broadcast certificate in journalism.

Currently, I am a broadcast journalist with the Voice of Nigeria’s external broadcast station serving as a Kogi State correspondent in Lokoja.

Well, of these I achieved without sponsorship from my parents nor support from any single member of my family and community but through begging and well-wishers in the community where I live.

Growing up and schooling with a disability was hell.

In childhood, I was despised, deprived, neglected, despaired, and frustrated as a worthless child.

Everyone in the family treated me with disdain. But now to God’s glory, I am a treasure and breadwinner of the family and a worthy son of the community.

Now, I am loved and revered by all as the first holder of a Master’s degree, and a freelance journalist with the British Broadcasting Corporation- BBC.

I am now an eye of the community with an inspiring story of the struggles of life in the world of disability and the media world.

My name-sake, bosom friend and classmate at CMML, now Late. Shiaka Ibrahim, (a young native of Idah, the ancestral Home of the Igala Nation) died of mind-boggling depression while struggling for academic achievements.

He was brilliant and ever-ambitious. Shiaka, like many others like him never lived to relive the depressing experience of schooling with a disability in Nigeria.

Shiaka had once told me, “I’m in the depts of depression that may take my life;” he moaned.

What a pensive expression of despair!

His death as a result of a nervous breakdown sent shock waves through the CMML Special School, Iyale, and its old Boys.

Poor Shiaka died with unfulfilled dreams while begging to feed and school with little or no support to scale through the hurdles of acquiring formal education.

His brilliance and outstanding performance at CMML Special School, Iyale rings a bell in our memories.

We both schooled up till the Junior Secondary School level from where I left the CMML Special School, Iyale, for Bishop Delisle College, Lokoja, where I completed my secondary school education.

Luke Maji, 28 years old wheelchair-bound, hopes for a university degree someday.

He says, “Life is pretty difficult for me now but I hope I will overcome my difficulties in life, and get married like everyone else.”

The PwDs have a myriad of challenges in life. From healthcare, nutrition, educational sponsorship or scholarship to unemployment, marriage, and inclusion in all social stratifications.

I have overcome mine with a fulfilling job, first and second degrees, professional accomplishments, and happy married life.

Joshua Paul, 45, is not as lucky. Though married with children, Paul, an ex-head boy of the CMML Special School, Iyale, still roams the streets of Lokoja and Abuja in search of a civil service job to raise his family but luck has not smiled on him yet.

“I have wasted much of my productive years in the labor market. What a sorrowful life of despondency!”, he exclaimed.

Yunusa Musa, just graduated in Economics with a second-class lower degree waiting for mandatory Nigeria’s National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

He narrates his experience on campus:

“I went through hell to raise money for my tuition fees at Kogi State University.

I have only one distant relative based in Saudi Arabia. His name is Umar Yahaya. He occasionally sent me money to augment my tuition fees and other school expenses.

“I raised money from the mobile phone repairs I offer my client in Anyigba town where I live and work as a phone technician.”

Abdulkareem Ahmed Onimisi, is visually-impaired (Blind) – a derogatory word for his kind of disability.

Onimisi sounds effusive to anyone who meets him for the first time.

He is not deterred by his visual-impairment nor despaired by his fate as he struggles to serve the Kogi State Chapter of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) as its secretary.

“We must carry one with the pains and joys of life regardless of one’s disability ordeal,” he says with an enigmatic smile.

Although, Kogi State lacks demographic data on the population of PwDs in tertiary institutions across the state since the state government has no ‘special’ bursaries for them.

And they hardly access the seemingly chaotic bursary disbursement at some of the payment arenas.

I never received bursary payments or any form of scholarship from the Kogi State Government throughout my undergraduate years at the Kogi State University, (KSU).

There are still a sizeable number of PwD students of Kogi State origin at the state tertiary institutions going through the harrowing experience of hardship as they wallow in poverty day in and day out, in the depts of frustration and depression, especially at the State College of Education, Ankpa; Kogi State University, Anyigba; Federal College of Education, (FCE) Okene; and College of Education (Technical), Kabba where PwDs school in large numbers with large problems.

Close interaction with a cross-section of students with ‘special needs’ on the campuses of these academic institutions, suggests the enormity of depression they live with on a monumental scale.

What keeps them going is the doggedness and spirit of endurance many are endowed with whether in rain or sun.

Many have painfully abandoned studies to return to their native homes amid penuries, while few others with exceptional courage, persevered and endured till the successful end of their academic pursuits.

It’s painfully clear to anyone around them that this class of Nigerians destined for greatness but deprived by society, live their lives in misery.

Government at all levels must wake up to the social realities surrounding their existence.

They deserve meaningful life just as everyone else.

Incisive development policies anchored on state vision, and selfless and incisive leadership can make a difference in our collective life.

You may also like

Leave a Comment