The Founder of The Albino Foundation (TAF), Mr Jake Epelle has called on Media Professionals to ensure that the activities of Persons With Disabilities PWDs are given optimal coverage during the forthcoming elections.
Mr Epelle made the call in Abuja, at a capacity building workshop on inclusive media reportage for the 2023 general election.
Mr Ekpelle disclosed that the foundation was planning to launch Election Hub with details of eligible PWD voters, maintained that the support of the media was necessary to achieve such feat.
According to the CEO of TAF, data from the election hub will guide the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on areas to deploy resources and facilities such as braille machines and others that will aid PWDs to vote on election day.
“We are deploying what we call the PWD Election Hub and we are also launching the PWD dashboard to monitor the election process. The dashboard will actually tell you the eligible PWDs who are going to vote in the forthcoming election”.
“We are also launching an app in which the media can use in its reportage. All of these would be formally launched. We are waiting for INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu to give us a date on when it will be launched”. Mr Ekpelle noted.
He explained that PWDs do not participate in the previous elections due to voter apathy. “They are not just interested in getting involved because they do not know the provisions that are available for them to participate effectively and they do not know the process and procedures to follow to participate in the electoral process.”
Mr Ekpelle appealed to journalists to help deepen report and highlight issues affecting PWDs so that policy makers and international partners would be aware of the main challenges the organization was facing.
President Nigeria Union of Journalists NUJ, Mr Chris Isiguzo while stating that over 200 journalists have so far been trained on election coverage, advised media professionals to give more attention on the marginalized group.
“Engage more on conflict sensitive reporting, let’s report authentic stories that promotes national peace and development. Nigerian citizens needs us more at this time for credible information on electoral process, we must not fail them”
The Executive Director of International Press Centre, Mr Lanre Arogundade, refreshed the Journalists memory on how to “Report Until Something Happens” (RUSH).
“You must be well informed about the issue before rushing to report, always counter fake news and change societal misconceptions about PWDs”.
In her presentation, Program Manager TAF, Ndifreka Ferdinand, disclosed that the organization intends to mobilize about 700 observers across the country to monitor the election, while over 85,000 PWDs are already registered with INEC for the election.
Reporting by Julian Osamoto; Editing by Chinasa Ossai & Adeniyi Bakare