People with Disabilities (PWDs) Kaduna State have demanded for the Federal Government and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to expand opportunities for mainstreaming all clusters of PWDs into all aspects of the electoral processes.
The demand was made known to newsmen in a paper presentation titled: ‘Demand Charter for Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Election Processes in Nigeria by the Executive Director, AID Foundation of Nigeria, Mr. Biomet Emmanuel at the Voter Education Programme organized by the League of Democratic Women LEADS Nigeria for Persons With Disability Forum and Launching of PWDs Charter in Kaduna, North-West, Nigeria on Tuesday
In the presentations, Mr. Biomet said the call for the 100% inclusion of the PWDs in all electoral processes was built on the consensus arrived at broad spectrum of stakeholders at various workshops across the six geo political zones of Nigeria.
“PWDs have come to consensus that INEC and the parties should develop clear and simplified voting guidelines for PWDs; made into Braille for the visually impaired, audios for the blind and television-based sign language for the deaf and that PWDs should be engaged to perform these roles”.
“INEC should employ qualified PWDs and saddle them with the tasks of ensuring the participation of this constituency in the political processes, in electoral preparatory process, as election observers and mobilization of PWDs to participate in elections”.
“Due to poor management of the political process, particularly the voting day machinery, majority of People With Disability (PWDs) are often excluded from participating in elections.
“Again, since the attainment of political independence, there has been an apparent dearth of data on the participation of PWDs in elections as the numerous electoral bodies have not through it wise to maintain such information at any level” he said.
According to him, amongst other consensus of the group is that political parties should ensure that PWDs are appointed into their administrative structures and offered opportunities to contest and be voted for on their platforms
Also speaking, the Programme Manager Health and Governance Action Aid Nigeria, Mr. Ipo-Ade Omilaju harped on the need to promote participation of the PWDs in the electoral processes, saying with the twenty five million population of the PWDs in Nigeria, they stand better chance of getting elected into political offices at all levels.
He said out of this number, “3.4 million are badly affected in such a way they cannot do one thing or the other. Take for example, President Obasanjo was elected into office with 24.4 million votes in his 1st tenure, his 2nd time is about 21 million votes, President Yar’dau was voted in with about 14 million votes and Buhari has less than 15 million votes which means that if every persons living with disability in Nigeria bring out a candidates and come out to vote with your 25 million in number, the person will automatically win the election because your population is vital”.
The Electoral Commissioner, Public Affairs and Information Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (KAD-SIECO), Professor Andrew Nkom said the efforts that Legal Awareness Nigeria is making to provide guidance towards active participation in the electoral process is a welcome development that is in line with the drive of the Commission towards deepening democracy in the state and in the wider context of Nigeria.
Represented by the Head of Voters Education, Mr. John Bulus, Professor Nkom informed that the Commission is desirous to work with all organizations on the democratic process towards good governance, which is based on the quality of persons who get elected into positions of responsibility.
Contributing, the Chairman of People with Disabilities Kaduna State, Mr. Julius Shemang said to make an effective elections, Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (KAD-SIECO) and INEC need to give employment to the persons living with disability to be part of Ad-hoc official during the election to help capture more of their members and make it easy for the process.