By Chukwunyere Nwosu (INN), Abuja
Cedar Seed Foundation has held a two-day stakeholder forum to launch a training manual on voters’ education and engage stakeholders to ensure full implementation of clause 54 of the electoral act.
The project, launched on 8th November, 2022, in Abuja brought together stakeholders of People with Disabilities (PWDs) from different Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs), INEC, NCPWD, and other relevant bodies to discuss disability inclusion.
Program Director, Mrs. Rose Daniel explained that the project was implemented to curb the challenges Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) face during elections. It intended to encourage and promote disability inclusion in the electoral process. She urged all stakeholders to advocate for an inclusive electoral process in the upcoming election and beyond.
In his presentation on the project overview, Mr Shedrack Danladi noted that the project was funded by the United Nations Development Program to mainstream inclusive, transparent, and non-violent elections.
He said Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) have been marginalized and excluded on important issues over the years, including elections.
“Nigeria has a population of about 200 million people, and more than 20 million of them are people with disabilities. A significant portion of our population is excluded from the electoral process, public infrastructure, access to polling units, and political participation.”
A key objective of the project is to ensure the full implementation of clause 54 of the Electoral Act 2022 which made special provisions and inclusion for persons with disabilities, giving them priority in the polling unit during election, and access to disability friendly electoral materials to guarantee peace, security and safety for PWDs to encourage them to come out en mass to vote.
Danladi said the project aims to sensitize and enlighten 10,000 citizens on voter education in Abuja and Kaduna, for a total of 20,000 citizens.
He hinted that the sensitization will commence on the 14th November in both Abuja and Kaduna. In Abuja – AMAC, Bwari, Kuje and Gwagwalada Area Councils and in Kaduna – Kaura, Zangon Kataf, Jema’a and Jaba LGAs are part of the Local Government areas selected for the sensitisations.
Muhammad Murtala Dalhat, representative of kaduna State Resident Electoral Officer, commended Cedar Seed Foundation for such a laudable project and expressed INEC’s appreciation to the Organization for helping lessen the work for INEC in ensuring no PWD is disenfranchised in all the electoral processes and also reassures INEC commitment and support.
In her remarks, Esther James K., representative of the Federal Ministry of Justice, expressed gratitude to the foundation for taking big steps in the Project.
“This project will go a long way in changing the narrative of PWDs during elections, and the Ministry, which is an advisory body to INEC, is fully supportive.”
The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) represented by Director of Social Integration of the Commission, Mr. Idemudia Lawrence, congratulated the foundation for the commendable work and reiterated that “nothing about us without us”
He assured the foundation of the Commission’s support and said that gone are the days when PWDs stayed at home and slept during elections, waiting for people to encourage them to come out and vote. He urged persons with disabilities to come out and change the narrative and stop the exclusion and marginalization,