In preparation for the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections, the Campaign for Equal Voting Access for Persons with Disabilities (EVA4PWD), a program of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), will be deploying observers across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
EVA4PWD, which is the premier group of persons with disabilities (PWDs) election observer in Africa, is dedicated to ensuring that citizens with disabilities are able to participate in the electoral process on equal bases with other citizens. The group will be partnering with other civil society organizations to gather data on the participation of persons with disabilities on election day.
David O. Anyaele, the Chairman of the Campaign for Equal Voting Access for Persons with Disabilities, in a press release explained that the objectives of the observation exercise include assessing the extent of improvement by INEC in the conduct of the election since the February 25, 2023 presidential and national assembly elections, the provisions made by INEC for the participation of persons with disabilities in the elections, and raising awareness on equal voting rights for citizens with disabilities.
The statement reads in part that “the exercise is also an opportunity to assess INEC’s compliance with relevant laws, including 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.
“Ahead of the election day, EVA4PWD has called on INEC election officers at the local government level to be better prepared in the deployment of sensitive and non-sensitive materials to ensure a timely commencement of the elections. The group also urges INEC to identify and distribute assistive devices, including Braille guides, shade and magnifying glasses, to benefit persons with disabilities.
“In addition, EVA4PWD is calling on INEC to administer Form EC40H to persons with disabilities at the polling units to enable the commission to identify PWDs and deploy assistive devices in future elections. The group also urges INEC to make available at least six sign language interpreters in each state result collection center to ensure that the deaf community is not left behind.”
The group thereafter appealed to persons with disabilities not to be demoralized by the difficulties experienced during the February 25, 2023 presidential and national assembly elections and encourages them to come out en-masse to vote in the governorship and state houses of assembly elections. The group believes that these elections are critical to the disability community, and it is an opportunity to elect those that will pass and implement disability laws at the subnational level.
Anyaele emphasizes that “together, we shall create an accessible country, free from discrimination, exclusion, and isolation on the grounds of disability.