By Lekan Raji, Lagos

IT was amazement galore as the National Association of Visually Impaired Students (NANVIS), University of Lagos (UNILAG) branch celebrated her 10th anniversary.

The anniversary, which held between Wednesday, August 27 and Sunday, September 4, was spiced with various activities such as rally, cooking awareness, laptops repairs, clothes ironing, beads making, lecture and dinner. 

The Principal, Vocational Training Center for the Blind, Oshodi, Mr. Nicholas Obot, delivered a lecture titled ‘A decade of societal amazement’, at Afe Babalola Auditorium of the University.

Memories of the day will live forever with the audience as Babatunde Obalereko, Political Science (400L), Uche Odogwu, Sociology (100L) Kemi Odusanya, Mass Communication (400L), Maria Kazeem, Law (500L), Oriyomi Adewole, Political Science (400L), among others thrilled a crowd to excitement.

Obelereko, to the surprise of many, repaired a laptop. Apart from laptop repairs, he is also skilled in automobile, electrical and electronic repairs. In what amazed many, Adewole, cooked vegetable soup and swallow meal just as Odogwu, ironed and folded clothes in style.

For Odusanya, there is more to life as visually impaired. She is a singer and also skilled in blowing saxophone. 

A graduate of Sociology and a music artiste, Kayode Akano at the NANVIS dinner, performed one of the tracks of his album, titled “E wa bami jo,” which is launching very soon, according to him.

Meanwhile, speaking on the challenges relating to visually impaired students on the campus, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Ramon Bello, noted that the university recognized the fact that there is a large population of visually impaired students to cater for. 

He said though, the university was lacking in adequate personnel with diverse experience to deal with their needs, requirement and challenges, lack of knowledge among the sighted people has also contributed to the challenges.

Bello, who was represented by the Deputy Dean of students’ Affairs, Dr. Ogenekaro Ogbinaka, challenged NANVIS to set up a committee to make recommendation to the university on their needs at classes, library and hostels.
He said, “Another challenge we have in the school is that of Linkages. No desk officers to provide linkages for them. We’ve got no support, sponsorship to advance different packages for them in the school. So, draw up types of facilities, equipment and support they need from the management.”

He, however, expressed the optimism that the management would explore all avenues at providing facilities and linkages for the visually impaired students in the university.

Ogbinaka added, “In view of that, skill development is very instrumental. I believe inherent in every body there is a talent. I will make recommendations to the VC for visually impaired students to do their internship within their university such that it will not affect their academics.

“Also, engage in charity programme. Don’t graduate with the impression that being visually impaired is poverty. You can start changing this perspective by raising fund for the less privileged. By doing this, people will take you very serious in the society. We want NANVIS to have international touch.”

The Deputy Dean added that the new policy of the division was that the students of the university will be used as hosts, entertainers and performers in all the events of the school.

In his welcome address, NANVIS general secretary, Riwan Dada, noted that the association was established out of the need for a body that will cater for the academic and welfare needs of the visually impaired students.
He expressed joy, saying NANVIS over the years has produced accomplished personalities such as ICT experts, entrepreneurs, legal practitioners and accountants in the country.

He said, “We really commend the pioneers of NANVIS. Today, the association is proud of members who are successful professionals. We can talk of Ayoola Efunkoya, from the department of Mass Communication, who graduated as the best student in 2009 with a CGPA of 4. 38. So, academically and professionally, our members are giving the best.”

Dada said that the association is still grappling with several ups and downs especially in the area instructional materials to compete with their sighted counterparts. 

He said the issue of mathematics is still posing a lot of challenges as a result of non-availability of equipment adding that NANVIS is making frantic efforts to see whether visually impaired students could be exempted from mathematics. 

The lecture had students from Creative Arts department, who acted a stage play just as Yuusuf Mustapha, a student from Philosophy department (100L), also performed a song titled “Born to Rule.”

Meanwhile, in his lecture, Mr. Nicolas noted that the major problems of visually impaired students are misconception of the people and lack of information about the needs of the students and not the problem of sighted-ness.

He lamented that unemployment of visually impaired graduates has also been on the rise over the years.

He however, urged the government, private sector, non-governmental organisations and philanthropists to provide adequate support and academic programmes for the visually impaired students across the country.

The anniversary ceremony was brought to halt at the dinner. The dinner had in attendance, the chief Imam, UNILAG central mosque, Prof. M A Bidmus, head, University counseling unit, Mrs. Janet Aregbesola, the patrons and the founding fathers of the association.

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