Governor Umo Eno has instituted a N100 million education intervention fund to assist physically challenged students in public tertiary institutions in Akwa Ibom State.
Eno announced this when he granted audience to the University of Uyo chapter of the National Association of Students with Disabilities, led by Emmanuel Wisdom, in his office in Uyo, the state capital.
Announcing the intervention, the governor said he was moved by the passion to give the student body a sense of belonging to underscore the political inclusion drive of his administration.
He mandated the office of accountant- general, secretary to the state government, ministry of education as well as ministry of women affairs and social welfare to supervise the disbursement of the fund.
He warned against bureaucratic bottlenecks in the disbursement of the fund, noting that the gesture was to encourage and make life easier for such students, stressing that some physically challenged persons were more focused than those with no disability.
“We will deposit N100m into that fund immediately to support all physically challenged Akwa Ibom students in public tertiary institutions and those residing around here.
“That money is set aside for them. The ministry of women affairs and ministry of education will verify that the beneficiaries are in school and pay school fees directly to their schools, then give them a little allowance to keep them in school until graduation.
“It’s just N100m; from time to time, we may augment it but for now we will put it there. The ministry of women affairs will ensure that they profile them properly so that they make sure they benefit from it.
“All you need is an approval to open maybe a joint account and the money will be kept there and the SSG will authorise payment.
“I don’t want the bureaucratic bottleneck of them applying and there is no money, so we put the money there for you to manage and give us the report but please let’s verify and make sure these are the right people and encourage them.
“This idea is to encourage them and make life easier for them. At least, if they want to go to school, let’s pay their tuition because they are doing well and even better than some of us who are not physically challenged, Eno said.
The governor also announced a cash donation to Udeme Emmanuel, a physically challenged student, in addition to a monthly stipend to aid his participation in the law school and assured him of automatic employment in the ministry of justice on his completion of the course.
“I believe that if the physically challenged ones among us love to go to school, we must support them, for Udeme Emmanuel who is leaving for law school, we will support him and pay monthly allowance for his upkeep and give him automatic employment in the ministry of justice immediately he is through with the law school”, the governor said.
Two of the students, Emmanuel Wisdom and Ubong Ikpe were appointed personal assistants on student matters and on students with disability respectively.
The appointees appreciated the governor for his political inclusion agenda, acknowledging that the physically challenged have been positively touched and promised to carry out their duties with diligence.