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Disabled persons want to vote, say 25.5m neglected

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With just nine days to the governorship polls, members of Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) and Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CFI), yesterday canvassed their inclusion in the electoral process.

The Executive Director of CFI, Grace Jerry, made the appeal when they visited the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ)’s secretariat in Benin City.

She disclosed that there are over 25.5 million eligible voters with disabilities and demanded their inclusion in the Edo governorship election.

The groups urged the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) to respect the disabled persons’ constitutional rights to vote and be voted for.

The centre said their advocacy; tagged “Leave no one behind” is geared towards addressing preventable factors that confront persons living with disabilities in Nigeria. She said the National Democratic Institute (NDI) aptly supports the agenda.

The director urged the media not to limit its coverage of elections to issues like profile of candidates, logistic challenges and other matters.

She said: “In 2011, the world disability report stated that 15 percent of about seven billion people living on earth are disabled. So if you narrow the indices down here in Nigeria, going by the current 170 million population, it means that 25.5 million Nigerians are disabled.

“If you look at the narratives leading to the September 10 polls, there are critical issues that concern the participation of citizens with disabilities, which have not been considered.”

Jerry asked for the provision of brail ballot in the country’s election as was done in the recent Zambian election. This, he said, would reduce the stress of persons with disabilities.

She continued: “The way the voting cubicle is designed is not accessible to persons living with disabilities as against the ones used in past elections in Nigeria.”

The NDI Senior Programme Officer, Bem Aga, said CFI, in collaboration with the institute, had trained 72 persons living with disabilities to monitor polling units across the 192 wards in the state.

He explained that the campaigners adopted the parallel votes tabulation method to moderate the evidence-based advocacy.

Aga said the observers would also audit the polling units across the 18 local council areas, with the aid of Information Communication Technology (ICT) experts and statisticians for effective coverage.


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