IFA urges INEC to enforce priority voting for PWDs for Saturday’s poll

By Angela Atabo

Inclusive Friends Association (IFA),a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) has tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to enforce its policy of priority voting for (Persons With Disabilities).
Ms Grace Jerry, the Executive Director, Inclusive Friends Association and Convener, Access Nigeria Campaign, said this on Friday at the group’s pre-election news conference, ahead of Saturday’s election.
Jerry said the call to give priority voting to PWDs was necessary because PWDs were not required to stand in line for long hours as witnessed in previous elections.
She said that PWDs were yet to enjoy inclusive elections in spite of making up 15 per cent of Nigeria’s population and the provision of the Electoral Act mandating INEC to provide PWD election assistive materials.
She said that Nigerians with disabilities in previous elections had documented barriers from polling units not always accessible to absence of ramps, handrails braille ballot Guide for Blind voters, magnifying glasses among others.
“The IFA’s Access Nigeria Campaign calls on INEC to stand by its commitment to providing the Braille ballot guide during the march 18th 2023 governorship and state house of Assembly election.
“INEC should also guarantee the provision of other PWD-friendly election materials including the Election Day written instructions (EC 30 E PWD), magnifying glasses, and Braille Ballot Guide.
“INEC should ensure effective and consistent use of Form EC40H to capture disaggregated data of PWDs voting on Election Day in line with their type of disabilities.
“INEC should ensure that they harvest the data of persons with disabilities recorded in form EC40H to further guide the deployment of assistive materials,” she said.

Jerry also urged all INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners to ensure the effective deployment of the assistive materials to the designated polling units in their various states.

She called on the police and other security agencies to protect all voters and election observers, especially those with disabilities.

She called on the media to focus on how PWDs were faring as they report on the nation’s election and make deliberate efforts to intensify voter education.

She said that Access Nigeria Campaign was a disability rights movement led by Inclusive Friends Association (IFA), for and on behalf of Nigeria’s 30 million Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).

She said that the goal of the Campaign was to increase the participation of PWDs in Nigeria’s political, electoral and governance processes, and ensure the full implementation of the 2022 Electoral Act, as amended. (NAN)