2023 Elections: Don, CCD urges adequate assistive devices, security for PWDs

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By Augusta Uchediunor

Prof. Omololu Soyombo, a Professor of Sociology at University of Lagos, has stressed the need for INEC to ensure adequate provision of assistive devices to aid Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) during the 2023 general elections.

He made the call in a presentation on “The Pre-Election Assessment of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Provisions for Persons with Disabilities” on Monday in Lagos.

Soyombo, a Consultant to the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), said an assessment of INEC’s preparations
for PWDs in the elections found that the people are ready and willing to exercise their voting right.

He added that thousands of PWDs registered and collected their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), “but they
are skeptical about availability of assistive devices that would help them during the election.

“PWDs expect improved outcomes from the situation in 2019; they expect INEC to provide materials in accessible
formats for them. Braille format, sign language interpreters, magnifying glasses and so on.

“They also want INEC and relevant authorities and agencies to provide adequate security to safeguard their
mobility and lives during the exercise.’’

He said a review of the 2019 election was conducted and a cross section of PWDs identified challenges such as
long distance, challenges with transportation and having to scale gutters, steps and other impediments,

They also expressed concern over their safety and security, harsh weather, having to join long queues, poor communication
of voting instructions, voting cubicles not convenient for use by PWDs, among others.

Proffering some solutions, he called for the provision of accessible polling booths and adequate security at polling units.

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He said “there should be provision for braille ballot papers for the visually impaired, language interpreters for those
with auditory impairment and special centres for PWDs to cast their votes without going through stress.”

He urged INEC to comply with international best practices on protection of the rights of PWDs.

Mr David Anyaele, the Executive Director, CCD, said that the essence of the presentation was to draw stakeholders’ attention to the situation of persons with disabilities and the electoral process in the forthcoming elections.

Nigerians will go to the poll on Feb. 25 for Presidential and National Assembly election, while governorship and
state houses of assembly election will hold on March 11, 2023. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu

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