CCD tasks INEC on hitch-free registration for the disabled
The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Lagos State to conduct an audit of its on-going continuous voters registration in order to ensure that the over 6Million disabled persons in the state are not disenfranchised in the electoral process.
The centre also want the electoral body to initiate more sensitisation programmes on the registration for PWDs, train and retrain INEC officials on ways to capture, attend and communicate with the different clusters of persons with disabilities as well as create friendly registration locations for the disabled persons.
Presenting the report of its investigation on the efficiency of the continuous voters registration for PWDs by INEC across the 20 Local Government Areas in Lagos State, at its secretariat in Ikeja, the Director of the centre, Mr. David Anyaele said, out of the 20LGAs where the registration were on-going, 18LGAs registration centres had no sign language, interpreters or special attendants for the PWDs.
He explained that INEC officials in 14 LGAs were not capturing PWDs data according to their disability type, alleging that INEC failed to fully comply with the Lagos State Special People Law (2010) that provides that special queues be provided for PWDs in 6 Local Government areas.
Anyaele said other pockets of challenges they identified include failure of INEC officials to disclose information as regards the electoral process claiming it was against their job ethics; barriers which include gutter, high slabs, steps/stairs, unlevelled floors and others at the venue of the voters registration exercise in the Local Government Areas.
According to him, few centres had signs or posters for directions or instructions to follow during exercise, while non of the INEC-CRV registration centres visited was within the headquarters of LGAs in Lagos, hence posing more difficulty for PWDs and even those without disabilities to locate the designated centres.
“Accessibility to the various locations is everything to PWDs, if INEC cannot provide ramps, lift and other mobility devices that could ease the movement of PWDs, attendants should be deployed at various centres to help them. We also deduced that the participation of PWDs in the on-going exercise is quite low and we believe that when adequate measures to mitigate hardship are put in place, they would turn out in their large numbers to register and participate in voting at the local, state and national elections”
“It is proven that persons with disabilities struggle much to participate in electoral processes in Nigeria. If the reasons fro the struggles and poor participation are not identified and addressed, they could mar the objective of the exercise. It has therefore becomes imperative for stakeholders to provide institutional support for INEC to ensure an all-inclusive process”, he said.
The CCD boss stressed the need for the National Assembly to pass the “Persons with Disability Bill” into law so that affected people could easily access social amenities and contribute to developmental agendas in the country.