An NGO, Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) on Wednesday called for increased sensitisation on political participation for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) ahead of the 2023 election.
The organisation made the call when some members of IFA board and management paid a courtesy visit to the Headquarters of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Grace Jerry, the Executive Director, IFA, stressed the need to include the over 30 million Nigeria PWDs in all electoral processes to protect and guarantee their rights in the socio-economic and political atmosphere in the country.
“We request that media houses assist in using their space for mobilisation of PWDs in the planned Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) so as not to disfranchise PWDs voters in the forthcoming elections.
“IFA request for increase sensitisation on political participation for PWDs by media houses, increase in reporting and prioritising of PWDs matters and also the need for a programme for citizens to understand basic needs and right of PWDs,’’ she said.
Jerry said the organisation through its advocacies, training and research targeted at addressing the inclusion and participation challenges of PWDs, had been able to conduct Nigeria’s first disability accessibility audit during election.
According to her, IFA had engaged the Independent national Electoral Commission (INEC) to improve provision of assistive materials for use by PWDs, which aided in addressing the challenges faced by PWDs during election.
“Some of the challenges faced by PWDs include the absence of handrails and ramps at pooling units, absence of PWD disaggregated data on Nigeria’s voters’ register and the unavailability of assistive materials such as the braille ballot guide, magnifying glasses and election day instructional materials.’’
She, therefore, called on the media, particularly the NAN to continue to interface more with Organisations of the Person with Disabilities (OPWDs) in order to promote participation of all vulnerable groups in the society.
Mr Silas Nwoha, Editor in Chief, NAN, assured the organisation of the agency’s commitment towards promoting and protecting the rights of PWDs.
“We are ready and willing to work with you towards protecting the rights of PWDs and I assure you that the agency would continue to prioritise your issues in our reports,’’ he said.
Also, Hajia Hadiza Aliyu, the Head of Health and Gender Desk, commended the achievements of the organisation in addressing the challenges faced by PWDs.
She reiterated the commitment of the NAN towards using the various media platforms to sensitise the public on PWDs issues to improve more participation during electoral processes.(NAN)