Persons With Disabilities Give Important Task to INEC Ahead of 2023 General Elections

Persons With Disabilities Give Important Task to INEC Ahead of 2023 General Elections

  • An organisation has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure that five per cent of their ad-hoc staff are made up of persons with disabilities
  • The call was made to INEC by the executive director of the Inclusive Friends Association in Abuja, Grace Jerry
  • According to Jerry, the attitude of some of the trained staff of INEC towards PWDs during elections across the country is appalling

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been urged to ensure that five per cent of its ad-hoc staff mapped out for the 2023 general elections are persons with disability (PWDs).

Speaking at a press briefing organised by the Inclusive Friends Association in Abuja, the executive director of the IFA, Grace Jerry said it is important that the electoral body considers the employment of PWDs ahead of the 2023 election.

Persons with Disabilities, 2023 general election, Inclusive Friends, PDP, APC, Labour Party, INEC
INEC has been urged to ensure that 5% of its ad-hoc staff are persons with disabilities. Photo: Nnenna Ibeh
Source: UGC

Jerry decried the attitude of some of the 'supposed' trained staff of INEC towards PWDs during electoral processes in Nigeria.

According to Jerry, most of the ad-hoc staff used buy INEC during elections lacked adequate training or fail to implement the training gathered before deployment.

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She also said the staff during the elections record low-level capturing of the PWD data in Form EC40H provided by the INEC for election purposes.

Also launching the Vote-Ability, Jerry called for increased participation of PWDs in elections with an aim to protect the political right of all Nigerians.

The Vote-Ability Campaign will advocate for PWDs inclusion by engaging all election stakeholders at various levels to be accountable for their statutory responsibilities.

IFA said that the stakeholders include but are not limited to the INEC, the security agencies, Political parties, the media, citizens and with a concentration on the community of PWDs.

The campaign will also serve as the key to holding the government accountable to deliver on promises and constitutional responsibilities.

Jerry said:

"It is obvious that there have been improvements in the electoral process and especially around the achievements of the Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) which includes the introduction of the Braille Ballot Guide (BBG) that enables blind voters to vote independently and Form EC 30E PWD poster that provides guidance for deaf voters.
"However, in spite of the provision of PWD voting assistive materials provided for PWDs, one cannot over-emphasize the need for continued engagement as there are still challenges that limit the participation PWDs in the electoral process."

What the law says about the employment of PWDs

Also speaking, a member of the board of IFA, Jide Ojo, the call for PWDS to constitute five per cent of INEC's ad-hoc staff is in line with the provisions of Sections 28 (1) and 29 of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities Prohibition Act 2018.

His words:

“That there should be priority collection of the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) during the distribution of PVCs. During the training of ad-hoc staff, INEC should collaborate with the Organization of Persons with Disabilities, especially on the PWD component.
“To increase the targeted civic and voter education ahead of the general elections."

Making voting easy for PWDs

Further speaking, Ojo said there should be an adequate deployment of PWD election assistive aids and polling units.

He also called on INEC to make locations where these PWD assistive aids will be deployed e made public.

“The Vote-Ability Campaign will access the implementation of Section 54 subsection 1 and 2 Nigeria Electoral Act 2022 to ascertain compliance as provided in the Act. such as Braille, large embossed print, electronic devices, sign language interpretation, or off-site voting in appropriate cases.”

FCT elections: It took me 2 hours on rollers to get to my polling unit, person with disability

During the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) area council elections, some persons living with disability decried the challenges they faced in accessing their polling units and areas.

This comes as several organisations have also called on the Nigerian government to ensure their work with relevant stakeholders to provide voting processes and platforms that fit all.

For Auwal Muhammad, a 42-year-old who sells recharge cards and chargers for mobile phones, the voting process for him has been a herculean task.

2023: Albino Foundation tasks political parties with inclusive campaigns

People with disabilities in Nigeria constitute about 25 per cent of the country's entire population according to recent statistics.

Speaking on behalf of the disability community in Nigeria, the Albino Foundation has tasked political parties to carry out inclusive campaigns.

Campaign in public by political parties will officially commence on Wednesday, September 28 as provided by Section 94(1) of the Electoral Act 2022.


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