Mr David Anyaele, Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) has said that Persons Living with Disabilities (PWDs) deserve more attention while carrying out their electoral rights.
Anyaele made the observation in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Abuja.
He said that PWDs, especially the visually impaired persons, had been disenfranchised from the voting process.
He noted that the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had planned to use the Braille ballot guide to assist visually impaired voters during the osun governorship election.
“I have observed that the provision of Braille material is scarce in the field.
‘’Virtually all the polling units that I visited had no Braille material for visually impaired persons.
‘’The only thing that I observed to be available is the EC40A Forms, which is designed to take record of the number of ballot papers used; also Form EC 40C to record numbers of unused and damaged ballot papers,’’ he said.
Anyaele said that the Braille material was unavailable from observations made by officials from CCD.
He said that he had visited three local government areas and clearly observed that the Braille materials were not available.
The Executive Director said that most polling units and booths were not accessible to those on wheelchairs and there had been no provision of ramps to aid them.
‘’Access to the booths has been a challenge, because a lot of the booths have stairs, about three steps to climb.
‘’We saw polling units being sited across gutters, and on hilly areas that require the use of up to three or four stairs to access.
‘’In fact one of the polling units we saw, there is no way a PWD can access it, even if they are being assisted, because the steps to climb are not functioning and there are no ramps,’’ he lamented.
He said that the centre was really worried that access for PWD was not being catered for by INEC.
Anyaele decried that what CCD observed was that INEC was playing what he referred to as ‘’the touch and go approach’’ in addressing issues of inclusion of PWD in elections.
‘’This use of touch and go approach by INEC in this election is not acceptable, and it is important that INEC attention be drawn to this for the benefit of all PWDs,’’ he said.
INEC had said it would use the Braille ballot guide to assist visually impaired voters during the osun governorship election.
CCD is an organisation for persons with disabilities that is dedicated to educating, supporting and empowering persons with disabilities and their families to maximise their potential. (NAN)
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