By Haruna Usman
As Nigerians set to cast ballot in 2023, the National electoral umpire is flooded with several demands from complaints of permanent voters cards to several unresolved issues of parties post primaries among the worrisome part are piles of litigations which they must attend to before the proper ballot casting across the 36 states including Abuja.
Eligible voters who are armed with permanent voters cards(PVCs) awaits the day of the real ballots, but on the other hand people with special needs or in other words persons with disabilities who often feels they are relegated to the background because of their natural deformities which include deaf, dumbs, cripples, lepers’ and virtually impaired persons among Nigeria’s eligible voters.
According to the National president joint association for person’s with disabilities, Alhaji Abdullahi Aliyu Usman from Kebbi stated said that, the new electoral act has been fair to them as they were well captured and considered is left for INEC to follow the provisions therein for them.
He noted that, as INEC prepares the ground for 2023 polls in the country there rightful place must be given to them as provided in the new electoral amendment bill, one person’s with disabilities must be given a separate line at the polling units and should be attended too first before the ables, two each polling unit must make available a sign language interpreter for the deafs, three a magnifying glasses must be provided for the virtually impaired persons to vote without damaging the ballot paper, four INEC should also include the names of persons with disabilities as adhoc staff, five persons with disabilities should have a smooth ride from their houses to all the polling units in the country.
He explained that, person’s with disabilities makes fifteen percent of Nigeria’s total population which amounted to 30m from the assumed population of 200m Nigeria’s population, therefore our members are not push overs.
He added that, the association have same demands in Kebbi and all the states of the federation because their members are scattered all over the country and in every tribe and religion there are people with disabilities “the federal government, state and INEC should give them sense of belonging by meeting the demands during and after elections in the country he said.
Other local demands, the president said are rights to education, rights to conveniently use public facilities such as hospitals, schools and markets and other social amenities being enjoyed by the ables.
In her response, the INEC official in charge of women and the physically challenged, Hajia Nafisa Ibrahim said that already such provisions have been made for person’s with disabilities not only them pregnant and older women don’t need to join the queue to vote at polling units, they should come and vote straight away due to their condition she said.