The beautiful Aver Akighir is a woman with disability who was born and brought up in Gboko, Benue state. Number 6th child in the family of 9. A graduate of English from Benue State University. She is currently the captain of Amputee Football Federation of Nigeria. A woman of many parts, a TV presenter anchoring an advocacy TV show known as The Possibilities in Catholic TV, co-founder of Questaid Foundation, a baker, a motivational speaker, hairstylist, a board member of Amputees collation of Nigeria and the founder of Benue Diva’s hangout (a meetings of young girls with disability).
We spoke to her on how it all happened and her exploits despite the disability
Can you recall how your disability occurred?
On that fateful day, 9th of February, 2003, I was on my way back from Church, I had an accident, my leg was broken, it was so bad that medically and traditionally, the only option was to have my leg amputated to save my life.
How did it affect you?
My challenge has completely changed me for good, right now I don’t only think about myself but I think and work for the good of over 27 million Nigeria’s living with disabilities. It has redirected my focus towards another goals of life, I live and dream of how to affect the lives many especially people living with disabilities in Nigeria.
How did your family and friends felt when they found out that you have been amputated?
The news of my amputation came to my family as a rude shock, they were all heartbroken. I remember how my father was unable to look at me in the face, I could look at him and feel his pain and anger. He regrets how he was unable to help his little girl (I was my Daddy’s favourite girl). My mother and my siblings were pained as well. They never left my side. They still feel sad about my condition till date. God was very kind and faithful to me and my family just three months into my amputation, I got myself back and God shown me so many reasons to be grateful for life and ever since I have not looked back. As for friends, some came with good heart while some came to see if it was true and how I was taking it but in all, God is good I pulled through and I am still pushing through life.
I understand that you are using artificial limb, how did you acquire it?
I got my beautiful limb through well-meaning friends and families; good people God sent my way.
As result of the disability, do you face any stigmatization and discrimination?
Disability and discrimination go hand in hand, I remembered back in my university days, I was going home after lectures some students were sitting in the school park, I was trekking home when one of them said (won’t you dash your younger sister that shoe you are wearing? Can’t you see how tight it is) he felt my shoes was tight that’s why I was walking the way I was. I can’t remember all the cases because I don’t really take them to heart.
Did your disability affect your education in any way?
My disability didn’t stop me from anything not even my education. After my amputation I went to college of education Katsina Ala where I got N.C.E in English- political science after which I went to Benue state university for my degree in English. I was enrolled for NYSC, after NYSC I enrolled for bakery classes after which I became a baker and I have been on it for 5 to 6 years now. My education days was quite fun and challenging but it all ended well and I was well supported by my family.
What are your challenges in carrying out daily activities?
Right Now, my biggest challenge is Employment, I need a job. About my daily life, I can’t complain much, I am doing my best and God has been faithful to me.
I know that you are a TV presenter, championing a Disability Advocacy Programme, please tell about it?
I am a presenter and co- founder of ” possibilities TV show ” is a program where we showcase the talent’s, challenges, fears, aspirations of persons with disabilities. Here they come to tell us their stories, what they go through, how they are able to face life challenges in the mix of the hardship etc.
It is a huge resource to running TV show, what are the challenges you face in running it?
Funding is a big challenge to me, sponsors and partnership. Paying of air time, and the production. Funding has been and is still my biggest challenge.
What did disability take from you?
Sometimes in movement’s, sometimes in what to wear etc. In terms of confidences, no one will take that from me not even my disability.
Did you have the full support of your family, what was their attitude towards you?
The members of my family have always been my number one supporters and fans. They support every little thing I do, in fact sometime I doubt myself but they will be there to remind me that I can do it, so I have always had their support and love.
Have people tried to oppress or take advantage of you as a result of your disability?
I don’t give room for such and they do try but they don’t always have their way, because I know my rights and what is good for me.
What are the lessons you have learnt living with disability?
Disability have giving me more responsibilities; it has brought out the best in me. Qualities I never knew I had. It has shaped me in the right direction, for being there for people especially the less privileged in the society. I think disability didn’t take from me rather it added to me more responsibilities.
Relationship is one area that people with disabilities suffer a lot of discrimination, what is the situation around your relationship?
It should be a story for another day
what do you think Government can do to alleviate the sufferings of 27million Nigerians with disabilities?
Let me use this opportunity to thank Mr President for signing disability bill into law. Implementation is the most important part of it and we are looking forward for that to kick start immediately. I wish and pray for a Nigeria where persons with disabilities will be able to enjoy their rights and privileges.
What is motivating you to always want to achieve more?
It is by the Grace of God, truly speaking I can’t tell how it all happens. Determination and God’s help is always pushing me through. Believing in my God, a lot has been achieved and there are much to achieve.
I want a better society for all and there is no one that will build that society for me, I have to live by example so where I see and I know that something is lacking I try to contributed my quota. So, the motivation comes from wanting to do right for the good of all.
What are your life aspirations?
I want to be a bridge between the world and persons with disabilities, advocate for more inclusive society. Inculcate good values in the younger generations teaching them how to love themselves. I also want to always be at the forefront in assisting PWD’S anytime, wherever I meet them.
Secondly, to have a family, love my God and simply be a mirror to the world.
What is your advice to other people with disabilities?
You must not give up on yourself, you must have to love yourself, pray always and work hard towards achieving your dreams. Always believe in yourself and the sky will be your starting point.
What is the striking thing you have gotten from all your experience over the years about disability advocacy?
I have learnt that there is a thin line between been able and Disability. You can be able today and the next minute your story might change.
My dream is to see disability community that is selfless, everyone coming together to work for the good and progress of persons with disabilities. Let’s love lead in this community, let us all be our brothers and sisters keeper. We are all wonderfully and beautifully made by God (one love).