About 27.3 million disabled Nigerians are currently unable to vote in the country’s election due to non-provision of special voting materials by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The figure was made public by the Executive Director of the Inclusive Friends Association (IFA), Mrs. Grace Jerry.
Jerry stated that the figure of people living with disability in the country is too much to be ignored and constantly being denied voting right.
She, therefore, urged the electoral body to make available special materials which would facilitate the inclusiveness of people with disability in the voting exercise.
Jerry also asked the National Assembly to make an amendment to the Electoral Act to ensure that the voting rights of people with disabilities are protected.
She maintained that materials like braille or tactile ballots and off-site voting should be provided in coming elections in the country.
She said, “The amendment of Section 56 (2) to make provision of braille or tactile ballots and off-site voting mandatory will help increase the participation of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in the electoral process. Beginning with the 2018 Appropriation Act, the National Assembly should regularly provide funds in the national budget for braille and tactile ballots, accessible voting cubicles, written instructions and sign language interpreters to enable PWDs to participate effectively in pre-election and Elections Day processes.”
Making reference to Ekiti and Osun state gubernatorial election coming up later in the year, Jerry requested INEC to start putting plans together in ensuring people with disabilities are able to vote in elections.
“The objective of this first edition is to build consensus on implementation timeless on the commendable commitments made by different stakeholders. The is most urgent because we are now 338 days to the 2019 general elections and 121 and 191 days to the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections, respectively. We need to set timelines and begin acting on them immediately”, she expressed.
Jerry further disclosed that organizations like the Joint National Association Of Persons With Disabilities (JONAPWD) have made available to INEC the best means of capturing data of people living with disabilities and type of their disabilities in line with the provision of best electoral materials that would best aid each person.