The Cedar Seed Foundation (CSF) has called on Government at State and Federal levels to fast track implementation of article 29 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and section 30 of the Nigeria Disability Act, 2018.
Article 29 of the UNCRPD and section 30 of the Nigeria Disability Act, 2018 set out the framework for participation of Persons with Disabilities in political and public life.
Chief Executive Officer of Cedar Seed Foundation, Lois Auta, while speaking at a press conference to commemorate the International Youth Day, said: “Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) face all forms of discrimination and exclusion daily and are regularly segregated from the wider population in key areas.
Auta, represented by Chief Operating Officer, Emmanuel Ayogu, observed that the situation is compounded by the fact that almost all sectors in the Nigerian State are non-inclusive. This, she further pointed includes the electoral process, for example, access to polling units, availability of voting materials like braille, magnifying lenses, etc. There is also a shortage of employment opportunities, public infrastructure and others.
“Political participation and services are inaccessible by citizens with disabilities and has continuously made it difficult for these persons to enjoy equal opportunities and rights like other citizens.”
The World Bank states that approximately 15% of people world wide are citizens with disabilities (PWDs). United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that over 20 million of Persons with Disabilities across the global are citizens of Nigeria.
Auta laments the poor participation and representation of young PWDs and the entire PWD population in political leadership roles in Nigeria.
She urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other stakeholders to ensure full implementation of clause 54 of the Electoral Act 2022. The clause makes it mandatory for the electoral body to make special provisions for people living with disabilities (PwDs) and those with special needs.
“This, according to her, will ensure an inclusive electoral process during the 2023 general elections.”