The Oasis Reporters
January 8, 2019
By Moses Gbande, Jos
Physically Challenged Vitalis Lanshima who is seeking to represent Jos North/Bassa Federal constituency at the House of Representatives says Nigeria has all the potentials it takes to be a great nation, but has been poorly mismanaged by succeeding leaders.
Vitalis Lanshima, an athlete who got his hands amputated at the age of 12 after being electrocuted, told journalists in Jos on Monday his decision to go into politics is to make a change.
He said Nigeria has no good reasons to be complaining of bad roads, lack of drinking water, electricity in the country, but due to bad leadership, saying time has come for citizens to have a second thought and elect credible leaders that have the plight of the people at heart.
According to him, “In Nigeria, we can do better and that is why I’m contesting. With my knowledge and experience, I know I can contribute in building Nigeria to a level where we can stand among the best in the world”.
Lanshima who is contesting on the platform of the Social Democratic Party, (SDP) said his decision came after a range of consultations with the inhabitants, as he is deemed as the best candidate from his constituency.
He said his decision to pitch his tent with SDP, was not because the party is popular, but candidature can make it popular, and called on the public to shun party affiliations but vote responsible and credible candidates the can bring change the people have long yearned for.
The athlete who set three world records at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Australia said his disability will not count against him at the poll, stressing that his people wanted someone with talents and experience which he said, qualified him for the post.
He vowed to make transparency his watchword if given the mandate, promising that all allocation to his constituency and money spent will be published throughout his tenure.
Lanshima is currently the first person with disability to serve on Louisville Metro Council in Kentucky, United States of America
He was born into a lower class family on January 27, 1977, in Jos, Nigeria, Vitalis Lanshima is a World Record Holder in Paralympic 100, 200, and 400 meters. He is the first immigrant to serve in elected office in Kentucky, United States. He is also the President and founder of several organisations, including The ASPIRE Group, LLC, ASPIRE Juice Bar + Cafe, ASPIRE 360°, and now ASPIRE with VITALIS.
He attended the University of Jos Staff School, Government Secondary School Gangare, and Mount Olive Secondary School on Ring Road all in Jos. Vitalis has had a remarkable life as an inspiring athlete with a professional career. His life is an embodiment of endurance, perseverance, and faith.
Vitalis learned the values of hard work, honesty, and responsibility at an early age. He started his first business at the age of 9. At the age of 14, he opened a grocery store with a couple packs of cigarette, a pack of biscuits, and a pack of candies. Within a year, the business grew into a full-fledged grocery store and he expanded into three different ventures.
Vitalis was twelve years old on October 13, 1989. He was carrying a high jump crossbar out into the field to practice for the upcoming athletic competition when the crossbar he was holding straight up with both hands inadvertently touched an electric, high-voltage power cable and was electrocuted.
He experienced third-degree burns that crushed his hands, ripping through the skin on his left thigh and right Achilles. It melted his fingers together, and rendered his hands useless. After several surgeries to repair damaged nerves and restore function, the doctors settled for amputation because gangrene had set in, creeping up fast.
In 1994, Vitalis, frustrated, because of the lack of therapy, nonchalance from government officials and institutions, and the immense burden he placed on his family began to experiment with the help of his father, older brother, and childhood friend, learning how to complete simple tasks at home. First, eating, brushing, bathing, and eventually he learned how to write, holding the pen with his stumps.
With this new empowerment came aspiration. Vitalis returned to school and athletics, breaking every barrier of stereotype and prejudice that is labelled on the handicapped in Africa. Life was tough for Vitalis, but he did not retreat. With support from his mother, family, and neighbours in Angwan Rogo and Vanderpuye – Tafawa Balewa area. In 1996, Vitalis won his first Gold medal in 800 meters for Plateau State at his first championships – the National Sports Festival in Makurdi, Benue State.
Vitalis’ performance and zeal earned him accolades and admiration. At the Sydney Paralympic Games, Vitalis was recruited by Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky to become the first disabled athlete to be recruited by an NCAA accredited institution to represent them in any sporting event.
In 2004 Vitalis was ranked No. 2 in the 100 meters in the Great Lakes Valley Conferences (GLVC) and shattered the 100 meters World Record with a time of 11:08 seconds and became the first Paralympic athlete to place in any major NCAA Championship.
He also lowered his 200 meters record to 22:71 seconds in the same year. In 2006, Vitalis once again raised the bar, lowering his world record times in 100 and 200 meters to 11:05 seconds and 22:52 seconds.
In 2011, he was conferred a Kentucky Colonel and named to the 44 member Bingham Fellows Class, charged with identifying impediments to parent and family involvement and developing strategies to broaden resources for families and enhance community involvement to inspire student achievement.
He is a mentor, and motivational speaker at schools, colleges, and organizations throughout the world. Vitalis currently serves as a Councilman representing District 21 in Jefferson County, Kentucky in the United States.
He is the first immigrant to serve in public office in Kentucky, and the first person with a disability to serve on Metro Council in Louisville, Kentucky