INEC partners DPAI on electoral inclusion of people with disabilities
THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Disability Policy and Advocacy Initiative (DPAI) have entered into partnership to ensure the full participation of People living with Disability (PWD’s) in the electoral process.
As a result, the groups held a one-day enlightenment and empowerment program in Lagos to help improve the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the forthcoming election in Lagos.
According to DPAI Secretary-General, Deaconess Adeola Olanrewanju, who stood in for DPAI chairman, Mr. Uche Ekugum, the essence of the interactive, informative and educative programme is to sensitize the disability populace over their duties and rights.
She added that the purpose of the partnership includes the campaign to promote vote awareness as well as to work to build confidence in the electoral process among the PWD’s.
In his keynote address, Mr. Felix Obanubi, State Team Leader (STL), State Accountability and Voice Initiative (SAVI) represented by Oluwatoyin Nwiido, an lawyer, emphasized on the importance of the forum.
According to him, it is an opportunity for people living with disabilities to interact and deliberate with INEC officials on some of the challenges confronting them, their experiences during the PVC collection exercise and their expectation in forthcoming election.
He also explained the importance of the presentation of a checklist for election process at the state level, which aims at helping persons with disabilities to discern the way they want issues affecting them to be captured during the election period and also work out strategies that will help in improving inclusion of PWDs in the next election. He added that the checklist can be used by electoral observers and media practitioners in reporting issues affecting people living with disabilities.
Obanubi further stated that it as an opportunity on the part of INEC to know the expectation of the people living with disabilities at every polling unit and work out a means of addressing it or improving on some of the existing ones for quick access and inclusion of PWDs in the forthcoming election.
Addressing some of the issues such as security, having an interpreter to help in communicating with some of the hearing impaired, PVC collection and quick access for people living with disabilities, an INEC official, Mrs. Ijeoma Okey-Igbokwe, said the Commission is also faced with some challenges.
Okey-Igbokwe elaborated on some of the difficulties confronting the Commission in meeting some of their demands and also pointed out some steps already taken by the Commission in making inclusion possible for persons with disabilities.
She said the Commission has been pushing for Priority Voting, which gives less-privileged or vulnerable individuals such as elderly ones, pregnant women, nursing mothers and persons with disabilities the opportunity to do their accreditation first.
She also reassured the disability populace of enough security at the polling units and explained how the Commission has been meeting regularly to ensure that those who have registered and have not collected their PVC collects it before the election in order to improve inclusion and promote their exercise of legitimate rights.