According to a report by Sun News, amputees in Northern Nigeria can now heave a sigh of relief following plans by the Amputees Coalition of Nigeria to provide them with artificial limbs. The Association, collaborating with Dynamic Orthotics and Prosthetic Nigeria Limited will provide artificial limbs to its members across the region.
A Memorandum of Understanding between both organisations was signed during the national conference of the association held on Friday, October 28, 2019 in Jos, Plateau State. The conference, which had participants mostly from Northern Nigeria, Anambra and Ekiti States was designed to get their members, many of whom are suffering due to lack of tools, share their experiences
The occasion took off with a dancing competition and later progressed into an emotional moment as their members narrated their personal experiences. Very many of them said they lost their limbs in ghastly accidents while some said their losses were as a result of diabetes. Others gave reasons like communal crises, including incidents of Boko Haram attacks and raids by herdsmen.
The story of a 16-year-old girl, Mary Fidelis moved many to tears. She lost one of her lower limbs as a baby following an invasion of her community by killer herdsmen. Mary recalled that the herdsmen invaded their house in Ajaragu village in Nasarawa State in the night while they slept and her mother narrowly escaped from the house and left her inside.
“It was at the age of two that I lost my left leg. I didn’t know what actually happened because I was too small then. My parents told me that it was Fulani herdsmen that invaded our house, trying to kill all of us in the night.
“My mother escaped from the room and left me sleeping but when the killer herdsmen came into the house, they searched and found me sleeping on the bed, they used cutlass and chopped off one of my legs. They left me in a pool of my own blood, believing that I will die afterwards. But God rescued my life. I was crying and some people came to my rescue. I was taken to the hospital and the leg was amputated,” said Mary, who is now a JSS two student at Iwene International School Ajaraguta, Nasarawa State.
She said she doesn’t live in the past and has no regret limping on one leg as she believes that with a little support, she will realise her dreams of being a successful career woman.
Anna Emmanuel, aged 13, lost her leg in a motorcycle accident in 2011 as she was returning from school. She admitted that having one limb is devastating, but vowed not to allow her current state to pull her down.
“I had accident in 2011 while I was returning on motorcycle from school. A car hit me and damaged my leg. My parents took me to where they combined some local herbs for me, but my situation degenerated. I was then transferred to a hospital where the doctors recommended amputation because the leg was decaying everyday and that was how the leg was chopped off,” she said.
Anna, who hails from Kaduna State, is very determined to make a difference in all that she does despite her condition, saying, “The accident does not stop me from going to school even on the motorcycle that crushed my legs”.
Mamuda Haruna, a 7-year-old boy lost his hand when he fell down from a fence while playing with his friends. His parents took him to a traditional doctor who fixes broken legs, but after he was declared healed and fit, the leg continued to decay inside without his knowledge.
Sadly, when that was discovered, Mamuda was rushed to the hospital and the leg was amputated because the decomposition was about to affect his entire body.
For Garos Gyang, it was a motor accident that claimed the lives of two other women that left her with a fracture. In 2015, she had boarded a car to the farm to help their pastor, but the vehicle was hit by another car on her way home.
Among those who survived the accident, she is the only one who had her hand amputated. She has no regret over the incident because she believed she was working for God.
“We went to help our pastor in his farm and when we were returning, we had an accident that claimed the lives of two women. I had a fracture on my hand that led to the amputation of the hand but I am happy I am alive,” she stated
Not even the National Secretary of Amputees Coalition of Nigeria (ACON), Gorge Dominic Anwayi was not without a story. He said he fell from a tree after school while he was playing with his friends.
“I was acting as a NEPA official climbing from one tree to the other, climbing to connect light when the branches of the trees cracked and fell down with me on it. I broke my hands and was taken to a traditional doctor who could not heal me,” he said.
Awayi noted that over 500 amputees from most states in the north participated in the conference and encouraged them not to allow their predicament to undermine their ability to exercise their rights.
He lamented that most amputees could not afford artificial limbs because of the financial implications as limbs are sold between N300,000 to N500,000 or even up a million in some cases. He also observed that the Federal Government has not fully implemented the Disability Rights Law that was signed recently by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He acknowledged the appointment of few people with disabilities by President Muhammadu Buhari but said that thousands of people are dying in silence due to lack of mobility, physical accessibility and stigmatisation in the area of employment.
“We are all aware of the disability rights law that was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari but it is not just the signing of the bill into law that matters but implementing the law to the fullest. Up till now we are having issues and challenges despite the fact that the law has been past.
“Government needs to really come in strongly and seriously to ensure that the law is fully implemented. Disability is not a charity issue, you are not trying to help people. It is the duty of government to take responsibility of the welfare of the citizens, including amputees, they must be included in all government programmes, that is what we call inclusion,” he said.