- Ahead of election 2019, Disability individuals and groups call for a chance at more access in electoral participation to enable them contributes to National development.
- Plea was made during the observance of the 2017 International Day for Persons with Disabilities (IDPD).
- A polling unit accessibility audits had been conducted during the 2016 governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states to ascertain the magnitude of barriers faced by PWDs on Election Day
- Obstacles observed in 2016 were, during the recent Anambra Governorship election, still there
- As Election year approaches, groups call on INEC to implement all of the recommendations in their “Disability Votes Matter”
Ahead of the 2019 General Elections Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) under the aegis of the Access Nigeria: Disability Votes Matter campaign has urged fellow citizens to give them more access in electoral participation to enable them contributes to National development.
The Executive Director Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) and Coordinator, Access Nigeria: Disability Votes Matter campaign Grace Jerry, made the plea in a statement as part of activities marking the 2017 International Day for Persons with Disabilities (IDPD).
The IDPD was proclaimed by the United Nations (UN) through resolution 47/3 of 1992 to promote the rights and well-being of PWDs in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of PWDs in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
“As we commemorate the IDPD this year, Nigeria and its citizens must reflect on the barriers that PWDs face in political and electoral processes and partner with Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs) to remove these barriers. Nigeria’s 27.3 million PWDs are willing, able and ready to participate in their country’s political and electoral processes as voters, candidates and election observers.
“IFA and its partners conducted polling unit accessibility audits during the 2016 governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states to ascertain the magnitude of barriers faced by PWDs on Election Day. These audits revealed widespread barriers to PWDs participation, including inaccessible polling units and the absence of Braille or Tactile ballots. Recently, the IFA conducted a limited observation of the Anambra governorship election and found out that the barriers observed in 2016 were still there,” Jerry said.
She said that the organisation is asking other electoral stakeholders like the National Assembly and National Orientation Agency to emulate INEC and urged INEC to do more.
According to her one of such areas is collecting the data of PWDs, disaggregated by type of disabilities, to enable them plan better for participation.
She said, “For PWDs, voting is not just about casting ballots, it is about belonging to the human race. We don’t want pity; we want the joy of full participation in Nigeria’s political and electoral processes. As the 2019 elections approach, we call on INEC to implement all of the recommendations in our “Disability Votes Matter” Report.”