By Joy Odor
The Founder, Albino Foundation, Mr Jake Ekpelle has bemoaned that any democratic process that is not inclusive, is a total rape on democracy.
Mr. Ekpelle gave the warning during a one day Forum on Inclusive Elections in Anambra State and beyond organised on Wednesday by INEC Press Correspondent in Abuja.
According to him, the Independent National Electoral Commission (lNEC) has been the only Organization in the country that has expressively inclusive on Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWD).
He enjoined the lNEC Press Corps to be the next very inclusive, noting that Abino Foundation need Inclusive reportage.
Mr. Ekpelle employed the Corps leadership to take the opportunity of various organizations that work in the same space to mainstream them to function effectively through trainings and projects.
Speaking, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi described citizen journalists as a challenge to mainstream media, saying, they are creating alot problem for real journalists.
The CPS opined that in as much as the citizen have right for information, journalism is not meant for all, maintaining that the tenet that journalists hold dear has been bastardized by so called citizen journalists because of the kind of rumor, fake news, misinformation and disinformation they publish in social media
Mr Rotimi also warn some of the Public Relations (PR) consultant who take up PR the job to damage or destroy image of others for a living to desist from such.
He called on editors in various medium to roit such people out from their medium to protect their integrity by ensuring accurate and balanced reportage at all times.
Mr Oyekanmi commended the INEC Press Corps for the support it have given to the Commission since the inception of the current administration.
Earlier in his welcome address, the lNEC Press Corps Chairman, Mr. Segun Ojumu called on the electoral umpire to leave no stone unturned in the inclusion of Persons Living with Disabilities(PLWD) in the electoral process as the governorship election in Anambra State draws near.
He urged INEC to provide sign language interpreters at polling units and registration centres during the election in Anambra State.
“The Number of People living with Albinism in Nigeria is estimated at two million. This is a number you cannot dismiss with a wave of the hand.
“The Albino Foundation during a post-mortem of the last General election called upon INEC to make designate election materials meant for Albinos as “Sensitive”. This will effectively make election officials treat them with the attention they deserve.
“According to the World Health Organization, in 2018, about 29 million of the 195 million people who comprise Nigeria’s national population were living with a disability.
“Data from the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey reveal that an estimated 9 percent of those 60 or older have some level of difficulty in at least one functional domain, seeing, hearing, communication, cognition, walking, or self-care; and 1 percent either have a lot of difficulty or cannot function at all in at least one domain” he stressed.
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Usman Alkali Baba who was represented by the DIG Muyiwa Adejobi said measures are being put in place to ensure that Anambra State governorship election is free and fair.
In his remark, the INEC Chairman who was represented by the INEC Commissioner in charge of information and voter Education Committee, Barrister Festus Okoye reeled out the commission’s efforts to make sure that the Anambra State gubernatorial election is hassle-free.
Commissioner Okoye reiterated that INEC is committed to following the provision of the Constitution, repairs of initial destroyed INEC properties, registration of voters including movement of materials and deploying of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System BVAS technology.
He announced that an online portal registration for journalists that would cover the election in Anambra would be opened by next week.