The National Disability Empowerment Forum (NADEF), an umbrella organization for 25 million physically challenged Nigerians, has backed the candidature of PDP Presidential flag bearer in the 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar.
According to Paul Ibe, Media Adviser to Atiku Abubakar, the endorsement was contained in NADEF’s letter of appreciation sent to Atiku, Tuesday, in Abuja to thank him for donating N10 million to the nation’s Amputee Football Team which enabled the squad to represent Nigeria at the ongoing Amputee World cup Championship in Mexico.
“25 million Nigerians living with disability are solidly behind you come 2019’’, the forum said in the letter signed by its President, Dr. Christopher Nwanoro.
“Your Excellency, we pray that the Almighty God will reward you greatly for your heart of gold towards people living with disabilities and humanity in general”, Nwanoro said.
Furthermore, the group said that Atiku’s donation “salvaged the situation, making it possible for the team to participate in the ongoing championship”.
Nwanoro, who himself is blind and is a beneficiary of Atiku’s scholarship scheme that saw him through his postgraduate studies, described the gesture as “another demonstration of Atiku’s love towards persons living with disability”.
It will be recalled that on Oct. 22, 2018, a day to the commencement of the championship, NADEF and Nigeria Amputee Football Federation (NAFF) made a presentation to Atiku seeking his financial support to enable the team travel to Mexico for the championship, a request which the former Vice President obliged with the donation of N10 million.
NAFF through Fred Edoreh, its World Cup Project Coordinator had complained that for three consecutive times the team had through self-help attended Africa Amputee Football Nations Cup, qualified for the global series but did not make the trips because of funding gaps.
Edoreh explained that if the team failed to show up at the 2018 world cup, which would be the fourth time, the Nigerian side would be suspended from participating in all international competitions, adding that the team would be disillusioned if such situation was allowed to be their fate.
“It will close the windows of opportunities which the sport offers for the engagement of physically challenged persons in Nigeria,” he said.
The project coordinator said that the team of 15 players and five officials needed a total of N27 million to defray the costs for return tickets, camping, procurement of equipment, upkeep and other logistics requirements and that N10 million had been raised from public appeal for funding and donation from the Super Eagles.
NAFF said that although it had written letters to relevant government agencies and corporate organizations seeking for their financial support, no response was received.
Meanwhile, the squad won its first world cup match against El-Salvador on Oct. 30, 2018 by a lone goal.