The Centre for Citizens With Disabilities (CCD) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide viable access and participation for persons with disabilities in the nation’s electoral processes.
Mr David Anyaele, the Executive Director of CCD, gave the charge during a courtesy visit to INEC’s Administrative Office in Yaba, Lagos.
Anyaele said the visit became necessary to ensure that people living with disability were not discriminated against or excluded from the electoral process.
“We are working with the Voice Of Nigeria (VON) to build a capacity of INEC officials to respond to the discrimination against PWDs, to understand inclusivity better and to collaborate.
“We are out here not just about the electoral process but also to ensure PWDs participation in politics in Lagos and the country at large,” he said.
He urged INEC to fulfil its plans for the PWDs in the upcoming 2023 elections.
“What we heard currently is that INEC has a framework for PWDs and we expect that all INEC systems and processes respond to this framework”, he said.
The Executive Director noted that CCD had already mapped out programmes to help prepare PWDs for the 2023 election.
“Part of what we intend to do is to support capacity building at the state and local government levels so that INEC will be familiar with the roles and responsibilities in promoting access and inclusion”, he added.
Anyaele advised PWDs in the country to play their part diligently in order to make their participation and inclusion easier.
“When updating your voter’s card, endeavour to indicate your type of disability so as to enable INEC have a database of PWDs in Nigeria.
“It will also help to inform their deployment of assistive devices that will enhance PWDs’ participation in the 2023 general elections,” he said.
Mr James Popoola, the Administrative Secretary of INEC in Lagos, reiterated INEC’s commitment in guaranteeing comprehensive inclusion of PWDs in its electoral programmes in 2023.
Popoola noted that INEC had always included PWDs in its programmes in the past by providing them with all the necessary facilities they needed to enable them exercise their franchise.
“INEC is actually in link with the Centre for Persons With Disabilities in its projects and aims to include PWDs in the electoral process even prior to the 2023 general elections.
“Even on election day, INEC will always make provisions for easy access at polling units for PWDs, we have braille ballot papers with which the blind can vote among others,” he explained. (NAN)