The Albino Foundation (TAF) in its determination to ensure the full participation and mainstreaming of PWDs into the entire political processes of Nigeria on Monday, 31st October, 2022 organized a sensitization workshop for policymakers, stakeholders in the field of politics, and persons with disabilities (PWDs) across the six states of the North East geo-political zone in Gombe State.
The workshop was a replica of earlier ones conducted by the TAF in the North central and North Western parts of the country.
Speaking at the opening session of the workshop, the administrative secretary of in INEC Gombe State, Mohammed Abubakar Wanka said: “persons with disabilities are undisputably human beings who have every right to actively participate in the election process as enshrined in the 1999 constitution”
Abubakar noted that “PWDs and other vulnerable groups should rest assured that the INEC is doing everything humanly possible to ensure full-scale participation of all persons with disabilities who have registered with the commission and has obtained their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) in the election process by 2023” .
He assured that the Commision has made improvements that guarantee the rights of persons with disabilities during the exercise.
Similarly, Mr. Zakari Musa, administrative secretary of INEC, Bauchi State also reiterates the Commission’s resolve to run a free, fair, credible, and more inclusive election in 2023.
According to Zakari, some technical innovations were introduced by the Commission and has eliminated identity theft while enhancing transparency in electoral process.
These innovations include the Bimodal Voter Authentification System (BVAS), electronic transmission of results, INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal among others.
The Bauchi INEC scribe used the occasion to call on all eligible PWD voters to come out en-masse to vote during the 2023 elections. He congratulated persons with disabilities for recording an impressive number of registration during the just concluded Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise.
Zakari said: “permit me to congratulate the disability community alongside other vulnerable groups (women and youth) for recording over 70% registration during the CVR exercise”
” This, I believe, is a sign of good things to come in terms of voters turnout in 2023. however, let me also remind you that while it is your right to register, its also your responsibility to collect your permanent voter cards (PVCs) and vote during the election”
“I urge you to demonstrate the same level of patriotism exhibited when you registered by collecting your PVCs and turning out en-masse to vote on February 25th and March 11th, 2023″ he added.
Adamawa State administrative secretary of INEC, Mr. Jibreen Jameel assured of the commission’s readiness to conduct a similar workshop in Yola to educate persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups on their roles and responsibilities during the 2023 general elections”.
Jameel stressed that ” the impending workshop will enable INEC to solve the electoral challenges facing persons with disabilities”.
“We will work together with persons with disabilities to create ideas and policies that would guarantee their active participation in all aspects of 2023 general election and beyond”, he concluded.
Bukar Abacha, INEC’s administrative secretary for Borno State, while delivering the electoral body’s position during the workshop appreciated TAF management for organizing such enlightening programme geared towards eliminating all forms of voter apathy to the bearest minimum.
He says the “the idea of inviting persons with disabilities and other stakeholders from the six States of the North East to the programme is an excellent one”.
His words: “I believe this will help them to know their rights as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UNCPD, Act 2008″
Bukar noted that INEC is working to provide a special kind of magnifying glasses for visually impaired voters”.
INN reports that the workshop involved series of discussion panel which featured speakers drawn from States of the North East. Topical issues pertaining to the rights of persons with disabilities to active participation in the electoral process were extensively discussed and deliberated upon.
Key takeaways of the workshop include the need for INEC to employ qualified persons with disabilities to serve as Desk Officers at all levels of INEC offices in the country i.e, local, state and national levels. PWDs membership of political parties, collaboration between INEC, OPDs, JONAPWD and NCPWD to cater for PWDs electoral needs as well as implement the UNCPD’s Act, 2008, issuance of automatic ticket to PWD contestants by political parties, amongst others.