Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday laid the foundation of the Children with Special Needs School, Igbor, near Makurdi in Benue.
The school, the first of its kind, is being built by the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Igbor is situated on Km 15 along Makurdi/Aliade road, few kilometres away from Ayati pilgrimage venue of the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi.
Obasanjo, at the ceremony, regretted that people with various forms of disabilities, who needed special attention from the society, were often neglected.
He, therefore, commended the Catholic Church for ” always remembering the needy” and patterning with the government to provide some essential services to the society.
The former president blamed what he termed “lack of meaningful development” on the “`absence of spirituality and morality in governance”.
He said that the Church needed to work together with government for the overall development of the nation.
“Those who need special attention among us are always neglected. That neglect leaves them helpless.
“As a country, we shall never be where we deserve to be unless the Church, spirituality and morality work together with governance,” he said.
According to Obasanjo, only agriculture can guarantee overall development and progress in Nigeria.
“In any state in Nigeria, whether it is oil-producing state or oil-consuming state, we all eat and oil is a wasting asset, the oil that we take from the ground today is gone and gone forever.
“But the land where we produce food is a renewable resource. The land you used today can be fertilised and used next year and will even produce more yields.
“I believe that one of the things that we must be emphasising in this state and all states today is that there is no alternative to agriculture in Nigeria,” he said.
The former president pledged to personally supervise the school project and support it.
Gov Samuel Ortom, in his remarks, commended the Catholic Church for its partnership with the government toward the development of the state.
Ortom said that the Church had been “very supportive” of government policies and programmes, adding that the government and the Church would continue to complement each other.
In his welcome address, the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, Most Rev. Wilfred Anagbe, said that the decision to establish a school for people with disabilities was to give them a sense of belonging in the society.
“We want to give this people a sense of belonging. Our society is too materialistic and we sometimes forget those who are not useful to us immediately, but they have life in them and that life must be upheld.
“For us in the Church, life is valuable and meaningful,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the school is the first for people with disabilities in the state since Benue was created in 1976.