Ahead of the 2019 polls, the Inclusive Friends Association (lFA) has expressed concern over the fate of Nigeria’s 27.3 million Persons With Disabilities (PWDs).
lFAs Executive Director Ms Grace Jerry who said this on Tuesday in Abuja at a Media Training on Disability Reporting, called for concerted efforts by stakeholders like lNEC and the media to ensure participation of the PWDs in the poll.
lFA which conducted a survey in 2016 on PWDs participation in the last Edo and Ondo states governorship elections noted that there was the need to make poling units and ballot boxes more accessible to PWDs in subsequent elections.
According to her the Edo and Ondo states survey revealed barriers larger than the wildest imaginations of well-meaning Nigerians as it was discovered that 65 percent poling units in Edo and 77 percent poling units observed in Ondo were located in places that were inaccessible for PWDs.
However, lFA in a bid to remedy the ugly trend, launched a report entitled "Disability Votes Matter” and met with lNEC Chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu who promised to introduce a more accessible poling unit layout, tactile ballots, accessible poling cubicles and collect gender disaggregated data for PWDs to enhance planning among others.
"We have received commitment from lNEC and the National Orientation Agency (NOA). We desire to get new commitment from the National Assembly and ensure that most of the commitments we have received are implemented before the 2019 General Elections," Jerry said.
She urged for the support of media professionals to sensitize the public on the importance of adding their voices through regular newspapers, television and radio news reports to ensure the inclusiveness of PWDs in the country’s electoral processes.