Nigeria’s civil society group, the Albino Foundation, also known as TAF Africa, says it will hold a Voter education Campaign in Kogi State, north-central Nigeria on Wednesday, tagged, Able2Vote campaign for Disability inclusion in the electoral process with regards to ‘priority voting’.
The group has held strategic engagements with election stakeholders in Kogi state on Tuesday ahead of its Able2Vote campaign on voter education in the state on Wednesday, in Lokoja, with visits to relevant organisations, to form the strategic partnerships with the electoral body and the media in the state towards improving the cause of persons with disabilities, PWDs, ahead of the November 11 off-season Governorship election in Kogi State.
The group had interaction with the officials of Kogi state Council of Nigeria union of Journalists, NUJ at the state NUJ Secretariat in Lokoja, where the Programme Officer of TAF Africa, Mr. Olayemi Samuel, in company of other members of the team, stressed the importance of inclusive reportage through investigative journalism that promotes cause of PWDs in societies.
Mr. Samuel, urged Journalists to give considerable attention to issues of Disability inclusion and such other matters like accessibility of PWDs to voting centres, creation of awareness on the key provisions of the extant laws that give legal rights to PWDs in Nigeria to participate in voting, and the extent of the implementation of such legal frameworks in Nigeria.
TAF Africa however, called on Journalists and editors to give appreciable media spaces to the preponderance of right abuses and violations of the provisions of the extant laws on Disability rights protection during conduct of elections in Nigeria by ensuring that assistive aids such as magnifying glasses, accessibility, provision of sign language interpreters at polling stations, are provided to the PWDs voters at the polling stations in compliance with the provisions of the various laws.
The Assistant program Officer, TAF Africa, George Dominic Awanyi, says, “The fact that you have disability, does not mean you cannot vote, but the PWDs can only vote and be voted for when they are fully aware of their rights to vote in elections without hindrances and that to me seems to be a challenge to Journalists in Nigeria to do a lot more of awareness creation in the media to protect those rights.
“There are a lot of legal provisions that the PWDs may not be aware of the country,” Awanyi said.
Communication Officer of TAF Africa, Ms. Lynn Aguncha, advised Journalists to expose themselves to the thematic terms-using the right words to describe persons with disabilities-in their reportage instead of the use of derogatory words such as ‘Cripple’ and ‘disable’ as she enjoins Journalists to ‘escalate’ disability issues in blogs and conventional media.
Kogi State chairman of NUJ, Adeiza Momohjimoh, urged TAF Africa to do more advocacy engagements with the election commission to ensure greater implementation of the extant laws of Disability inclusion.
“INEC has to do more of their job in terms of ensuring compliance with the provisions of the electoral act with regards to priority voting while he pledged the union support to the organization to achieve the shared objectives of improving the society where the PWDs enjoy equal and fair representation in government, with inclusive social welfare policies and programmes,” the NUJ Chairman added.