The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has pledged to enhance greater participation of persons living with disabilities in the 2019 general elections.
Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, the INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of Outreach and Partnership Committee made the pledge on Monday in Lokoja at the opening of a two-day strategic meeting on Access and Participation of Persons with Disabilities in 2019 general elections.
He said that the commission was desirous of deepening the democratic process in Nigeria, saying that part of the strategies was to ensure the participation of the marginalized and the disadvantaged groups across the country.
Ogunmola, who was represented by the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Kogi, Prof. James Akpam said that the INEC had introduced some innovations to reduce all forms of barriers experienced by people living with disabilities in all aspects of electoral process.
“It has also provided assistive and materials such as magnifying glasses at the polling units during elections, transcriptions of voter education materials to Braille and others to ensure their full and effective participation in the electoral process,” he said.
Ogunmola explained that more interventions were needed as the 2019 general elections drew near, hence the strategic meeting on improving electoral access for persons with disabilities.
According to him, the strategic meeting is to facilitate discussions and sharing of information on existing and new plans towards better outcomes for people living with disabilities in the 2019 elections.
“It is expected that the strategies developed at this meeting will enrich and complement efforts of the commission in improving the Electoral process,” he said.
In her remarks, the INEC Deputy Director in charge of civil Organisation, Mrs Dorothy Bello said that the meeting was organized to examine the role people living with disabilities in the forthcoming elections.
Mr Simon Fanto, the Project Manager of the International Foundation for Electoral System ( IFES) , said that the Organisation decided to partner with the INEC to organize the meeting as part of its global objective of enduring inclusiveness in electoral process.
Mrs Ekaete Umoh, the National President of the Joint National Association of Persons Living with Disabilities ( JONAPWD) commended the INEC for the measures taken so far to ensure full participation of her members in electoral process but stressed the need for more action.
Participants at the meeting include members of the Joint National Association of Persons Living with Disabilities, organizations of persons living with disabilities and persons with disabilities desk officers of the commission.(NAN)