By Janice Malachi
- INEC holds special registration day in Jos
- Dozens of PWDs turn out to register for 2019 vote
- IFA hails registration as “real progress”
Fatima Shauibu had two reasons for registering to vote.
One, her imam told her and others in her mosque to go to the INEC office on its special registration days for people with disabilities, or PWDs. But the second reason Fatima went was for herself.
“I am a citizen and I want to be fully involved,” she said.
Dozens of people with disabilities appeared to feel the same. In total, over 50 people claimed their voting rights in Jos North and South local government areas April 10 and 11.
‘Strong sign of support’
Inclusive Friends Association leads the Access Nigeria campaign. The effort aims to increase the number of voters with disabilities who take part in political and electoral processes. IFA executive director said the special registration in Jos was real progress.
“INEC’s special registration was a strong sign of support for the people with disabilities community,” Jerry said. “We want to thank all the INEC officials who worked long hours to make this possible.”
Aishatu Lawal, electoral officer in Jos South, was one of those officials. She waited long after the office closed with one voter whose driver was running late. The woman hired the car from the remote area in which she lived just for the disabilities registration.
“They are like any other human being and they have the rights to vote,” said Lawal.
Meeting special needs
INEC officials said they received training to accommodate the voters’ special needs. In Jos North, Ibrahim Kwak said some voters needed help entering the INEC building and with filling out their form. Officials there also suspended the finger print requirement for some citizens, but took photos that helped explain why their disability made this necessary.
Still, there were areas for improvement. For example, Kwak said his office planned to construct a ramp to help people with mobility issues.
“There has been a demand by the PWD community for active participation in electoral processes … and we are trying our best to support them, he said.
For voters like Fatima Shauibu, that support made all the difference. Now she can vote in elections and hopefully see a better Nigeria for her and her community.