By Angela Atabo
The Albino Foundation (TAF) has called on media practitioners to become reporters with focus on Persons With Disabilities (PWDs), ahead of the General Elections.
Chief Executive Officer and Founder of TAF, Jake Epelle, made the call at a one-day Capacity Building Workshop on Inclusive Media Reportage for 2023 General Elections.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workshop, with the theme ‘’Disability-inclusive Reporting for Journalists in the Electoral Process”, was supported by the European Union in Abuja.
The workshop affords the media an opportunity to learn about TAF’s intervention for the General Elections among others.
Epelle said that the lack of knowledge of the electoral process was responsible for voter apathy, especially among PWDs, adding that their participation in elections was also rarely reported by the media.
“The essence of what we are doing today is to appeal to you to become reporters with focus on disability; you will agree with me that issues around disability have not been properly reported and highlighted.
“Many of you have done your best to report issues around disability but there are countless others that haven’t joined the crusade to ensure that the activities of persons with disability in their community become headlines.
“We want to see that issues around disability, which are newsworthy, would continue to be in the news so that we can make policy makers, government officials and the international partners aware of the many challenges that we are trying to solve.
“We are also launching an app we developed to enhance the participation of PWDs in the general elections, through the collection and dissemination of real-time data and analytics of PWDs from various polling units during the election.‘’
Epelle said journalists could use the app for their reports or send reports, adding that “so we count on your help trusting you to put information out there to ensure that at the end, we are able to have a truly credible, verifiable and inclusive election.’’
He said that with the promise made by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide assistive devices to enhance the participation of PWDs, it was now the responsibility of media practitioners to intensify reportage around PWDs participation during the elections.
The Programme Manager of Albino Foundation, Ndifreke Ferdinand, said that 36 PWDs candidates would be contesting for various positions in the forthcoming election.
Ferdinand said that TAF would be mobilising 700 observers to monitor the 2023 general election across the country to help to give accurate assessment of the election procedure.
She, therefore, urged journalists to help in giving priority coverage as well as visibility to PWDs candidates as well as voters during the elections.
Mr Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director, International Press Centre (IPC), said the essence of the workshop was to expound on the relevance of PWD inclusive reporting in entrenching an inclusive society.
Arogundade said it was to also learn the implication of non-inclusion and how to drive societal interest in PWD issues through inclusive reporting.
In his presentation, titled “Understanding PWD-inclusive Reporting as a Platform for Promoting the Image and Enhancing the Voices of PWDs”, Arogundade called on journalists to be dogged in championing the course of PWDs.
He said that PWDs are an important part of the society and called on media practitioners to give them priority in their coverage urging journalists to practice RUSH, which stands for Report Until Something Happens .
“This is necessary because non-inclusion of PWDs could have dire consequences among which are continuous violation of the rights of about 30 million Nigerians, some which are “Non-inclusive electoral processes and elections, non-inclusive democracy and development among others.’’
Arogundade tasked journalists to view priority coverage of PWDs as a matter of social responsibility and while doing that they should imbibe the culture of professionalism and ethics and avoid using condescending languages.
Mr Chris Isiguzo, National President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), in his goodwill message, commended TAF for the initiative to equip journalists with the requisite knowledge for inclusive reporting.
According to Isiguzo, media practitioners are critical stakeholders for successful in election in Nigeria.
“We cannot say an election is credible when a group is left out.
“We must ensure that our reports represent the truth, are factual and not fictional and they are verifiable and authentic. Don’t rely on hear-say to avoid misinforming, dis-informing and mal-informing the people.
“If we are going to get it right, the media, security agencies and INEC must work together to ensure that we get it right.’’ (NAN)