Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) and a number of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to include persons with disabilities in the appointment of INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in nineteen States following the expiration of the tenure of the current RECs.
The CSOs made the call in a statement which called to question the partisanship in appointment of some RECs and the principles of non-discrimination and inclusivity in appointment of Persons with Disability (PWDs) who, despite representing about 15% of Nigeria’s population were completely left out of the process.
Among the CSOs are Yiaga Africa, International Press Center, Center for Media and Society, The Albino Foundation, Elect Her, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Partners for Electoral Reform, Inclusive Friends Association, The Kukah Centre
Their statement read: “We submit that it is critical that as we strive to make the electoral process more inclusive, representative, and qualitative, the appointment of PWDS would provide the pulse required to effect provisions of the Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018, and other legislations and guiding principles in aspect.
“We, the undersigned, entirely reject the recent appointment of RECs and urge President Buhari to withdraw the nominations in the public interest and in furtherance of his commitment to leave a legacy of a truly independent electoral institution that enjoys the trust and confidence of citizens and electoral stakeholders.
“Also, we call for thorough examination and background checks of credentials of the nominees. The Senate is urged to reject those nominees that fall short of the threshold of non-partisanship and impeccable character. Electoral commissioners must be individuals with impeccable character, unquestionable neutrality inclinations, dispositions, and competence. The nominations and process of confirmation must be inclusive and representative of all segments of the society.
“It is critical for the legitimacy and success of the 2023 general election that the appointment of the RECs is concluded expeditiously in a transparent, non-partisan, and professional manner, more so now that the 2023 election is just 183 days away.
“To this end, we, the undersigned, make the following call; President Buhari should withdraw the nomination of these individuals in the public interest and in furtherance of his commitment to leave a legacy of a truly independent electoral institution that enjoys the trust and confidence of citizens and electoral stakeholders.
“In making nominations into Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), President Buhari should be guided by the judgment of the Federal High Court on affirmative action, wherein the court directed that all appointments must comply with the 35% affirmative action for women.
“In the same vein, the President should ensure the representation of Persons with Disability (PWDs) and young people in the appointments. The Senate should completely reject the nominees as INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners.
“The Senate should accelerate the process of screening nominees without compromising due diligence and comprehensive scrutiny of nominations forwarded by the President”, the statement concluded.