The Independent National Electoral. Commission, INEC, says the commission needs more reliable data for greater inclusion of People With Disabilities, PWDs, in the forthcoming general election.
The INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, stated this at the ‘ABLE2VOTE’ Campaign in Abuja, organized by the Albino Foundation, to ensure the mainstreaming of People With Disabilities in the electoral process.
Prof Yakubu said that PWDs are citizens with the right to participate in all areas of human activity without stigma or discrimination.
He noted their systematic exclusion on account of disability has affected a significant part of the nation’s population, from effective participation in areas of human endeavor.
”As we continue to prepare for the 2023 General Election, for us to serve you better, we need more and reliable data on disability, particularly the locations with the largest concentration of PWDs”.
“We appealed to the political parties, their polling agents and voters to cooperate with them and the security agencies to protect them. It is a happy experience to see them discharged their responsibilities like all other ad hoc staff”.
“In pursuit of our equal opportunities for all Nigerians, we would also look forward to other categories for PWDs to serve as Supervisors, Monitors, Collation and even Returning Officers during elections.”
Founder of The Albino Foundation, Mr Jake Epelle, lauded INEC Chairman for his doggedness to promote inclusion of PWDs during elections.
Mr Ekpelle said “We are going to be deploying 700 members of PWDs as observers in our electoral hub in partnership with INEC. Deploy an on-the-spot app that will give us an accurate assessment of what is happening in every polling unit for real time data”.
According to him, sign language interpreters would be deployed in the two Houses of the National Assembly with salary payment for three years, while interns would be sent to 10 States Houses of Assembly..
Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Mr Nasir Kwarra said that the commission would work towards ensuring that disability groups serve and participate in the coming national census.
Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Mr James Lalu, reiterated that with the intervention of INEC a lot of political parties are now giving consideration to PWDs. “The just concluded Continuous Voter Registration enabled us to obtain our voter cards”.
Reporting by Julian Osamoto; Editing by Adeniyi Bakare