Nigerians with disabilities demand full inclusion into electoral process
Africa, Misc., August 23 2017
NIGERIA: As the nation prepares for 2019 general election, Nigerians with disabilities have developed a demand charter for inclusion that will enable them participated fully in electoral processes in the country, in line with what is obtainable across all developed democracies.
The Charter was said to have been developed as a frontal attack to the challenge of poor management of political process, particularly the voting day machinery which usually exclude Persons with Disabilities.
Although, various persons with disabilities in the country acknowledged that various cluster of persons with disabilities usually participated in elections, there is the need for more inclusion in the processes to boost greater participation in future elections.
The demand charter was presented to stakeholders during a one-day workshop organized by Centre for Information Technology Development (CITAD) with support of DFID through Action Aid Nigeria in Kano.
Unveiling the Charter, Ibrahim Umar Abdulkarim, who is CITAD `s consultant for the project, disclosed that the charter seeks to expand opportunities for mainstreaming all clusters of persons with disabilities into all aspects of the electoral process.
“It builds on the consensus arrived at by the broad spectrum of stakeholders that attended workshops spread across the six geo –political zones of Nigeria. The charter recognizes two levels of challenges, general and specific that must be reflected in any statement meant to integrate persons with disabilities into the electoral processes of Nigeria” he noted.
A portion of the copy of the demand charter obtained by BDSUNDAY reads as followings: “Key recommendations for inclusion of all the PWDs cluster into the electoral processes includes: one, that INEC should employ qualified persons with disabilities and saddle them with the tasks of ensuring the participation of this constituency in the political processes, in electoralpreparatory process, as election observers and mobilization of persons with disabilities to participate in elections.
“Two, INEC and the political parties should develop clear and simplified voting guidelines for persons with disabilities; made into braille for people with vision disabilities, audios for people who are blind and television –based sign language for people who are deaf.
“INEC should ensure that polling stations are visible and accessible to persons with disabilities, as well as ensure that the names of all registered persons with disabilities are verified on the voters’ registers and printed in bold for easy identification during election.
“INEC should endeavor to make the voting process easier by sorting out their logistics issues to ensure prompt arrival to the polling stations with voting materials on Election Day, in addition to before the elections, sensitize its staff that they will encounter persons with disabilities and prepare them for the type of voting related challenges they might have to help them surmount, there are skilled persons with disabilities that INEC could use as facilitators”.