The Executive Director of the Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) Grace Jerry has urged Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) to exercise their electoral and constitutional rights by voting in Saturday’s Anambra governorship elections.
She made the call Friday in a statement after the Get Out the Vote (GOTV) roundtable with PWD leaders to mobilize members for the election.
She said that IFA does most of this work through the Access Nigeria: Disability Votes Matter campaign and that their participation in the elections would go a long way to address many of the challenges facing them on electoral matters.
“The INEC has not been able to effectively plan for us because they do not capture the disability status of PWDs, disaggregated by type of disability, during elections and Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) processes. When we saw these problems, we chose to organize to influence INEC and other policy makers to address them instead of agonizing. Agonizing does not solve any problems.
“As part of our efforts to address these problems, we held strategy meetings with our allies. On October 25, 2017 we publicly presented a joint report for the 2016 Edo and Ondo elections with clear recommendations on how INEC and other public institutions can make elections more accessible for PWDs in Nigeria. The National President of JONAPWD and the Anambra state Chairman were there. I am happy to report to you that INEC has started to implement some of our recommendations and has promised to implement those that they have not started implementing. INEC Chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu was there and personally confirmed this,” Jerry said.
She listed other challenges facing the PWDs as polling units not accessible for those who use wheelchairs because of pavements and gutters; unavailability of sign language interpreters or written instructions to explain Election Day processes and procedures to members with hearing impairments or cannot see; and unavailability of Braille or Tactile ballots for members with visual impairments or hear.