In preparation for the Kogi, Bayelsa gubernatorial elections slated for November 16, 2019, People With Disabilities (PWDs) have called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to designate particular desks for PWDs at all polling stations.
This according to them is to alleviate the sufferings, which PWDs have to go through to exercise their franchise. The call was made in a report presenting the findings of the “outcome of the Assessment of Provisions for Persons with Disabilities in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Preparations for the November, 2019 Governorship Election in Kogi State, Nigeria” conducted by the Centre for Citizens With Disabilities (CCD).
Presenting the report to Journalists in Abuja, yesterday, CCD executive director, David Anyaele said, “The assessment was guided by the objectives to document the experiences of PWDs in Kogi State during the 2019 General Elections, with particular reference to election and voting process, to evaluate INEC preparation and provision for full and effective participation of PWDs in the November 2019 Governorship Election in Kogi State, to assess the preparedness of INEC to comply with international best practices for the protection of the rights of PWDs to participate in the 2019 Governorship Election in Kogi State and make recommendations to enhance the full and effective participation of PWDs in the November, 2019 Governorship Election in Kogi State.”
The Report further reviewed national, regional and global perspectives on the participation of Persons with Disabilities in elections, most of which indicated that the rights of PWDs were often flagrantly violated, it stated that the Assessment adopted a Rapid Assessment method.
The Report which made recommendations for various groups called on the INEC to provide more accessible polling stations and polling booths, especially for people using wheel-chairs and also urged that arrangements be made for PWDs to vote at the nearest polling places to their residence, regardless of their place of registration.
Other recommendations included that INEC designate particular desks for PWDs at all polling stations, ensure that election materials are available in accessible formats (Braille, large prints, tactile formats, audio-visual formats) for PWDs and also provide for sign language interpreters and other specialists to assist PWDs during elections among others.
The report urged that the Commission’s training manuals should be revised to meet the needs of PWDs, called for capacity-building for INEC officials, INEC ad-hoc staff, OPDs and CSOs on the rights of PWDs in line with National Disability Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Further adding that beyond INEC provisions, political parties and politicians should be encouraged to include PWDs and OPDs in their plans and carry them along in pre-election campaign and mobilization activities. Ensuring good access to meeting and campaign/rally venues. They should also arrange for sign language interpreters, produce materials in braille.
The Assessment covered 10 selected local government areas in Kogi State, which include Dekina; Ijumu; Kabba/Bunu; Koton Karfe; Ofu; Ogori/Magongo; Okehi; Okene; Olamaboro; and Omala.