10th December, 2010
Come Sunday, the much-awaited first ever Ms Wheelchair Nigeria Pageant will hold atÂ Welcome Centre, International Airport Road, Lagos, with notable musicians, comediansÂ and Nollywood stars in attendance at an evening which promises to be full ofÂ razzmatazz.
Cosmas Okoli, CEO of Mobility Aid and Appliances Research and Development CentreÂ (MAARDEC), at a media briefing in Lagos, said the competition is designed toÂ celebrate the most accomplished women in wheelchairs as well as their uniqueÂ contribution to society.
â€œMs Wheelchair Nigeria is not a beauty contest in the sense that there is noÂ emphasis on womenâ€™s physical appearance. It is open to the married, widows andÂ divorced,â€ he noted.
According to him, â€œthe competition provides an opportunity for women achievers whoÂ happen to use wheelchairs to successfully advocate for over 20 million NigeriansÂ living with disabilities by raising public awareness on their plight and therebyÂ influence attitudinal, architectural and social change for all Nigerians.â€
Although there have beenÂ campaigns against maginalisation or discrimination ofÂ people with disabilities, many of them still suffer rejection from families,Â relations as well as government at all levels.
In some cases, most Nigerian infrastructure like pedestrian bridge, public toilet,Â bus-stop shelter and similar amenities lack provision for people with disabilities.
This, however, does not seem to have deterred them as they continue to strive to doÂ whatever their able-bodied counterparts are doing, even when it appears every hopeÂ is lost.
It is against this backdrop that MAARDEC Empowerment Centre plans, through a contestÂ tagged Ms Wheelchair Nigeria 2010, to produce many role models who can give hope,Â courage, inspiration and motivation to people with disabilities.
The winner of MS Wheelchair Nigeria Pageant will go home with a brand new InnosonÂ SUV, a Nigeria-made car, annual salary of N1.2 million and a brand new Rough RiderÂ wheelchair.
The first runner-up will go home with a brand new Rough Rider wheelchair and cash ofÂ N500,000 and the 2nd runner-up will receive a brand new Rough Rider wheelchair,Â N250,000 and the remaining 13 contestants will receive consolation prizes of brandÂ new Rough Rider wheelchairs and N50,000 cash.
Okoli called on the Federal Government to tap into the opportunities inherent in theÂ Ms Wheelchair Nigeria Pageant to enhance its rebranding project.