The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been called upon to adhere to the five percent requirements in the Disability Act while engaging ad-hoc staff for the 2022 Osun gubernatorial election.
A non-governmental organisation, Inclusive Friends Association also requested that polling units should be made accessible for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) through the use of flat surface during setting up of the voting areas as against verandahs with steps.
It also urged the INEC to continue engaging and consulting with the disability community, to identify areas to be improved upon for more inclusive and accessible electoral processes.
Making this request though Grace Jerry, its Executive Director during an advocacy visit to the Osun INEC Resident Electoral Commission (REC) in Osogbo on Friday, the group indicated that Persons With Disabilities, PWDs, wants to participate in the electoral and political processes of Nigeria.
While stating that all they required is an enabling environment to do so, she requested that, “PWD-friendly election procedures, including priority voting, should be made available to persons with disabilities to vote upon immediate arrival at the polling unit.
“All voting assistive materials, including the Braille Ballot Guide, Magnifying Glasses, form EC30E PWD, should be made available on Election Day.
“There should be increased synergy between the commission and the security agencies. INEC should ensure that Form EC 30E PWD Election Day written instructions should be posted in a visible location to enable persons with disabilities, especially the deaf voters to understand what is required of them before voting.
“INEC should ensure that poll officials captured the data of PWDs on form EC40H.
“INEC should ensure to harvest data captured on form EC40H which in the long run, helps it plan better and save costs.
“That INEC should intensify the demonstration of assistive materials during ad-hoc training for effective usability of the materials.
“Ballot boxes should be positioned where it is easily accessible to voters with disabilities to allow them independently cast their ballots.
“INEC as an inclusive agency should adhere to the 5% recruitment requirements in the Disability Act, while engaging its Ad-hoc staff.
“INEC should continue to engage and consult with the disability community, including IFA, to identify areas to be improved for more inclusive and accessible electoral processes.
“It is evident that PWDs want to participate in the electoral and political processes of Nigeria as indicated by their participation as both voters and observers during the Anambra governorship and FCT Area Council’s elections concluded recently. All they require is an enabling environment to do so.”
Responding, Prof AbdulGaniy Raji, the Osun REC who assured the group that the commission will work on their requests, added that the commission is committed to giving priority voting to the PWDs.
Prof. Raji also said the commission has shortlisted PWDs who are serving corps members in the State, with a promise to use them as Ad-hoc staff during the election.