Group commends INEC for well-conducted election
The Campaign for Equal Voting Access for Persons with Disabilities (EVAPWD), a programme of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), has commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of the Osun State election, held yesterday.
Chairman of EVAPWD, David Anayele, in a statement, said the body was impressed to observe that marginalised populations – the aged, nursing mothers and pregnant women and persons with disabilities were offered priority voting in most of the polling units observed.
“In particular, Polling Unit 4, ward 5 in Irepodun LGA, Polling Unit 2, ward 5 in Ede South LGA, Polling unit 8, ward 10, Odo-Otin LGA and the majority of other observed Polling Units were seen providing priority voting for PWDs. We commend polling officials for their efforts in this regard,” the group said.
EVAPWD observed that significant PUs were accessible to persons with physical disabilities. In particular, it noted that PU 9 ward 3, Boripe LGA; PU 10 ward 4, Ijebu Ijesha; PU 7 ward 3, Ijebu Ijesha LGA; PU 4 ward 4, Ijebu Ijesha LGA; PU 04, ward 4, Ede North LGA; PU 3 ward 5 in IIeogbo LGA; and PU 2, ward 9 in Aiyedire LGA were good examples of how to make PUs accessible to physically challenged voters.
“Observation shows that INEC sited a significant number of PUs along the roadside and dropped the ballot boxes on the floor, whilst a good number of other PUs were sited in building with access for those on wheelchairs,” the group said.
According to the group, the key objective of the observation exercise was to study provisions made by INEC for persons with disabilities to participate in the election; and to raise awareness of equal voting rights for citizens with disabilities.
“It was an opportunity to assess the election management body’s compliance to the provisions of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, section 54 of the Electoral Act 2022, INEC Framework on Access and Participation of Persons with Disabilities, and the Nigeria Constitution 1999 as amended,” the group said.
EVAPWD expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that a significant number of Polling Units observed were not accessible.
“Notably, PU 9, ward 3 in Boripe LGA was not accessible as it was too high and filled with steps and grasses. Also, PU 4, ward 10, Ede South LGA; PU 8, ward 5, Ede South; and PU 8, ward 10 in Odo-Otin were sited across gutters. Also not accessible is PU 2, ward 9, and its environs in Aiyedire LGA were Pus sited across gutters or in schools with steps and high pavements. What this means is that voters with a physical disability would struggle much more to cast their votes,” it said.
The group further commended INEC and other election stakeholders for the significant improvement of accessible polling units as not only did INEC ensure that PWDs and other vulnerable groups enjoyed priority at the PUs, but assistive devices such as Braille guides, shade and magnifying glasses and siting of a significant number of PUs inaccessible environments also aided the process.
The body also expressed satisfaction with the level of security provided by the security agencies at most of the PUs visited.