By Diana Omueza
#TrackNigeria: The Center for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) has urged Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to address factors hindering effective participation of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in elections ahead of Saturday’s Governorship and State House of Assembly poll.
CCD Executive Director, Mr David Anyaele made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.
“The call is necessary, because in spite of INEC’s success in implementing section 26 of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disability Prohibition Act in the Feb.23 elections, there are still challenges.
“These include absence of magnifying glasses for persons with albinism among others,’’ Anyaele said.
He said the challenges should be adequately looked into ahead of the forthcoming election.
“We commend INEC for the implementation of section 26 of the discrimination against PWDs Prohibition Act, which provides that in queues, persons with disabilities should be given first consideration.
“As we approach the next set of elections slated for March 9, we urge INEC to ensure that some of the problems relating to PWDs are not repeated.
“We observed that polling units did not paste the voting procedures and other elections guide and polling units did not have sign language interpreters. A large number of polling units had no Braille materials for visually impaired.
“The issue of not pasting of information on election guides to aid those with hearing impairment should be of utmost priority as we prepare for the election,” Anyaele said.
He added: “Of great concern is also the high number of polling units located at public buildings that require ramp which led to low turnout of PWDs for election.
“So, I urge INEC to ensure that polling units are made accessible ahead of the poll to address the challenges, ’’ he said.
Anyaele said this would go a long way in giving equal voting access and inclusiveness of PWDs in the next election.
He posited that it would also encourage PWDs to exercise their civic duties.
He called on security agencies to look critically into the issues of poor deployment of personnel at polling units.
He also urged them to do everything humanly possible to avoid loss of lives as witnessed in the Feb. 23 elections.
The executive director urged the electorate to come out massively to exercise their civic rights by supporting credible candidates of their choice during the elections.
Anyaele, also congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari and all the elected leaders in the Feb. 23 elections, for their victory and appealed to the president to keep to his promise of including PWDs, youths and women in his next cabinet.
He also called on the aggrieved candidates who disagreed with the results to eschew violence and take the option of seeking legal redness.
He urged the media to remain non-partisan and sustain the fight against fake news.(NAN)