INEC promises to provide special ballot papers for the physically challenged
Edo REC says commission has gone digital
THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Wednesday disclosed that it has designed ballot papers for the people living with disabilities to cast their votes without any assistance.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Ekiti, Mr. Sam Olumekun, who disclosed this in Ado-Ekiti during an interactive session with the members of National Association of People Living With Disabilities (NAPLWD), said those with any form of visual defect will vote with the aid of what the electoral body called ‘Tattered Ballot Papers’ while the deaf and dumb would be provided with signs that will assist them to vote, adding that nobody would be disenfranchised on account of disabilities in the forthcoming elections.
Olumekun, who was represented by INEC’s Administrative Secretary, Mr. Femi Agboola, said that the special ballot papers were made for the blinds and had been unveiled by INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, during a visit of the group to his office in Abuja.
He said: “It has always been the wish of INEC that nobody will be disenfranchised in these elections, particularly on account of disabilities. Electoral process is for all category of people that are more than 18, so everybody is going to be fully integrated into the system.
“We are assuring you that you will be fully involved in the electoral process. You will vote and nothing will change that. We are looking forward to taking receipt of these special ballot papers as soon as sensitive materials are sent to our office in Ado-Ekiti.”
The REC, who disclosed that the commission would train ad-hoc members of staff on how to guide the affected persons on how to vote with the special ballot papers, said: “We are not taking anything for granted. We are going to display all forms of sensitisation and sign posters to guide the deaf who cannot easily understand the rudiment of voting. You belong to a critical sector of our society and you can’t be left out in any election.”
In another development, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Edo State, Mr. Mike Igini, yesterday said that INEC had gone digital but that politicians in the country were still operating in the analogue way hence reports of people stealing permanent voters cards with the intention of using them to vote during elections.
Igini, who disclosed that the commission had received a total of 137,000 card readers, which he said, would significantly check rigging during elections, said with the introduction of the card reader ahead of next month’s general elections, the commission was ready to foil any plan to rig election.
Urging people to troop out en-masse to exercise their franchise rights on the day of elections, Olumekun assured that security agencies would be on ground to checkmate violence that could scare them from participating in the polls.
The Chairman of the NPLWD in Ekiti State, Mr. Peter Ojo, who described INEC’s preparation towards the forthcoming polls as commendable, said the group had got assurances from Prof. Jega that there would be special provision for them to be able to participate in voting, urging the electoral body to implement the agreement to prevent his members from being disenfranchised.
Igini, who displayed the card reader to journalists in his office yesterday, said: “A number of people think the card readers will not come, that is why they are still instigating people to go and snatch permanent voters’ cards thinking that they will use the old ways to deal with the new approach that we have developed. So, this is the card reader, the battery will last for about 14 hours.
“Once you come with your PVC, your face and everything about you will show on it. It will authenticate whether the face corresponds with the person that has the thumbprint. There is a speaker in it that will announce that everything about you is okay before you are given a ballot. As a matter of fact, at the end of the day, we can print a new register with this.
“So, you can see that it is useless for anybody to be in possession of the PVC of another person. But when we were in the old regime when INEC was using paper, it was possible without photo for politicians to pack all of them and thumbprint. We have moved beyond this era. So, we are at the level of digital while the politicians are at the analogue stage in their thinking. That is what must have informed some of the unwholesome practices.”
“We have now told people that it is useless to go and snatch PVCs. We have a total of 120,000 polling units in Nigeria. As of today, we have received a total of 137,000 card readers in excess of the 120,000 polling units. But we must have some redundancies incase anything goes wrong. So, we actually placed order for 137,000 card readers.
“As I speak with you, we have received almost 60 per cent of that and by the end of the week or next week, we are going to receive the last consignment. So, we are ready to go”, he further said.