By Ere-ebi Agedah
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has disclosed plans to collaborate and partner with National Commission for Persons with Disability, NCPWD to ensure absolute inclusivity for Persons with Disabilities, PWD in the 2023 general election.
At a joint news conference in Abuja, organised by the NCPWDs in partnership with Inclusive Friends Association, IFA, Mr Yahaya Bello, INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, reiterated that PWD will be not disenfranchised and will also enjoy adequate inclusion in the electoral process.
According to Bello, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, is passionate about PWDs.
“This is to ensure that they are not disenfranchised, and have included exclusivity in the processes to take care of PWDs. The idea of gathering and facilitating the registration of PWDs is very commendable, especially in view of the NCPWD mandate towards inclusivity in election.
“The future of Nigeria is our collective responsibility and your voice and vote is your power. So we want to use this forum to call on PWDs to come in mass and register in the CVR exercise in FCT.
‘‘And we in INEC will work in conjunction and partnership with NCPWD in order to ensure that we register them and their PVCs would come out and they will vote in the 2023 election,” Bello said.
Also, Speaking the Executive Secretary of NCPWD, Mr James Lalu explained that all candidates from the different political parties for the 2023 general elections should be aware that PWDs have a voice and their vote would count.
He advised that candidates should look for disability communities in their constituencies and engage them positively towards the 2023 general elections.
“Our scaling up of the voter registration is to ensure that all PWDs participate fully in the electoral system where they can exercise their civil rights.
“With the coming into being of the Persons with Disability Prohibition Act, it has escalated a lot of opportunities for the respect, right and dignity of PWDs in Nigeria.
“We have heard from the INEC’s REC on the commitment to ensure inclusivity of PWDs in the electoral process and we will remain committed to that.
“We are going to hold INEC to their words, so that we would see and monitor as the process goes on. We will go round to ensure that PWDs register and get their voter cards.
‘‘Our media men, we continue to call on you to project the necessary voice of the disability community,” Lalu stated.
Furthermore, the Executive Director of IFA, Mrs Grace Jerry, said in spite of awareness and mobilisation by CSOs and Organisation of Persons with Disabilities, many PWDs were yet to register for the PVC.
“According to Inclusive Friends 2021 Data for inclusion report, some challenges that limit their participation in CVR exercise were access to registration centres and the digital smart tools to register independently.
‘‘Similarly, PWDs who have access to smart tools are not literate enough to go through the process online,” Jerry said.
She, however, commended NCPWD, INEC and other relevant stakeholders for their supports in diverse ways, to enhance the care, progress and inclusivity of PWDs across the country.