- The Access Nigeria Campaign has been observing the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise in Anambra state
- The group is observing the CVR process to document the experience of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs)
- The campaign has now released its final observation statement and most importantly, recommendations that will assist INEC in future
The statement signed by Grace Jerry, Executive Director, Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) was shared with journalists including a Legit.ng reporter at a press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, September 21.
The IFA-led Access Nigeria Campaign observed the CVR process in Anambra state from Wednesday, August 11 to Friday, September 1 at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) offices.
The objective of the observation was to ascertain the accessibility of the CVR process for PWDs and make recommendations that will assist INEC to make the process more accessible for PWDs in the future.
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“IFA believes that if the CVR and other electoral processes are accessible to PWDs, it will increase our participation in all phases of the electoral process.”
Below are nine recommendations given to INEC by the campaign.
1. While the Access Nigeria Campaign commends INEC on the efforts it has made so far to ensure that PWDs are not left behind in the CVR exercise, the following recommendations will help remove barriers faced by PWDs in the ongoing process.
2. The police and other security agencies should support INEC by ensuring that all communities across Nigeria are peaceful enough for eligible citizens to register as voters. For example, the communal crisis in Ayamelum LGA prevented many residents and observers from participating in the voter registration process there.
3. INEC should provide mobile and/or permanent ramps and handrails at voter registration centres to aid the mobility of PWDs. Alternatively, the registration points in the centres should be located in areas that do not have staircases or other barriers as this will immediately eliminate the difficulty faced by PWDs who use crutches or wheelchairs. Additionally, the internal layout of all registration centres should be made spacious enough for all categories of PWDs to move freely without barriers during the CVR.
4. INEC should provide sign language interpreters and PWD specific instruction posters to assist residents with hearing impairments and other forms of disabilities to register during CVR processes. Providing sign language interpreters for off-cycle CVR processes like the one in Anambra where INEC LGA offices are utilized for registration is particularly cheap, given that there are only 21 registration centres.
5. INEC should strengthen its monitoring of registration officials across the country to ensure that officials like the one who refused to provide priority registration for PWDs in Ayamelum LGA are quickly detected and eased out of the system.
6. Access Nigeria Campaign recommends that INEC should collaborate with the deaf association of Nigeria Anambra chapter in ensuring that sign language interpreters are stationed across states conducting CVR. This will ease the participation of PWDs who have hearing impairments.
7. INEC should immediately incorporate the data of PWDs, disaggregated by types of disabilities, collected during the Anambra CVR process, into the planning for deployment of voting aides like the Braille ballot guide, election day written instructions, magnifying glasses, during the Anambra governorship election.
8. INEC should increase collaboration with security agencies to ensure adequate deployment of their personnel to the registration centres. The presence of the security agencies will enhance the confidence of safety to PWDs which will, in turn, increase their participation.
9. INEC should send commendation letters or messages to registration officers in Anambra state on the professional treatment of PWDs including priority registration and urge them to surpass this feat when the CVR process is reopened in 2022. Registration officials in other parts of the country should be urged to emulate this.
Also speaking at the briefing, Programme Director, National Democratic Institute (NDI), Mr Bem Aga, said the institute and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supported IFA's Access Nigeria Campaign to carry out the project to open up the electoral process for PWDs.
Aga said one of NDI’s objectives was to ensure that all people were treated justly and in accordance with their diverse conditions as well as guarantee inclusion of all.
On his part, Aderibigbe Sola, the assistant secretary of THE Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities in the Federal Capital Territory, commended IFA for always carrying PWDs along in all its programmes.
He also commended INEC for having the interest of PWDs in electoral activities, while appealing to the electoral commission to do more.
Access Nigeria Campaign consistency on electoral matters
Legit.ng had earlier reported that the Access Nigeria Campaign made recommendations that will assist INEC in its initial report on Wednesday, August 11.
The campaign had deployed PWD observers to the 21 local government area offices of INEC in Anambra state.
The methodology for the exercise was stationary observation.
Yiaga Africa's observation
Recall that a foremost election observer, Yiaga Africa, had earlier released its first report on the ongoing CVR exercise.
The organisation assigned observers to various pre-assigned local government areas registration centres.
The observers documented critical incidents witnessed and send in reports of the critical incidents observed.