People with Disabilities (PWDs), in Ondo State, have called for the deployment of their members as observers in Saturday’sgovernorship poll in the state.
The Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), Mr David Anayele, made the call at a news conference in Akure on Thursday.
Anayele said their members were demanding for more inclusive participation in electoral processes and governance across the nation.
“Leave no one behind, disability votes count.
“Twenty seven teams of PWDs trained observers, which include a driver, an observer and a Personal Assistant, will be deployed to 200 polling units.
“ This is the representative random sample of the 3009 polling units in the state.
“Observers will rove on election day and answer questions at each of their assigned polling units, using a comprehensive checklist before sending their reports to a central database system via coded text messages.’’
Anayele contended that PWDs were greatly marginalised from participating in Nigeria’s electoral processes “because polling units are not always physically accessible to those that are unable to walk or have impaired walking.’’
He listed other hindrances as inaccessible locations of polling booths, high placement of ballot boxes and hearing and visual impairments which often disenfranchised the group from voting.
The director stressed that these often discouraged Nigerians with disabilities from coming out to participate in elections.
Similarly, Mrs Grace Jerry, the Executive Director, Inclusive Friends Association, called for the use of sign language interpreters and Braille facilities in elections.
She demanded for more incentives, ballot box accessibility, change in narratives and stereotypes about persons with disabilities.
She called for national legislation on disability rights.
Jerry advocated collaboration among Civil Society Organisations before 2019 election.
“We must work together to remove the barriers that make it difficult for the 25, 000,000 PWDs in Nigeria to participate in our electoral processes on an equal basis with other citizens.’’