After 52 weeks of the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the commission yesterday, records a cumulative data of 10,487,972 fresh registrants. Out of this data, 8,631,696 registrants have completed their registration with 3,250,449 online and 5,381,247 through physical registration.
The report also captures the disaggregated data of PWDs who register online as 187,904 (1.7%) and 67,171 (0.8%) PWDs had completed their registration.
Reacting to the outputs of INEC’s CVR weekly updates, the Executive Director of the Inclusive Friends Association, Grace Jerry expresses concern over the low participation of PWDs in the CVR exercise.
“With the outcome of the CVR reports, I’m afraid many citizens with disabilities may not be able to participate in the coming general elections in 2023. We are not comfortable with the manner of registration as most registration centers are not accessible. Also, the upsurge of new registrants at registration centers may discourage PWDs to register as they are likely to experience attitudinal barriers at registration centers.”
Grace, while referencing the organization’s research work on the CVR process in 2021, highlighted some possible challenges that may limit the participation of PWDs in the registration exercise.
“In 2021, we documented some challenges of PWDs face during the CVR exercise in our ‘Data for Inclusion: A pathways for Accessible Continuous Voter Registration’ Report. We gathered that the centralization of registration centers at the commissions’ local government offices discourages PWDs from availing for registration as distance, cost means of transportation and other economic factors may not permit their availability for registration.”
Jerry appeals to the commission to honor the recommendation made in the shared report to decentralize the registration centers to Ward levels to ease decongestion and increase PWD participation in the exercise.
“The current registration centers are congested due to the surge of new registrants. We, therefore, appeal to the commission to extend closing the registration date and see to the devolution of the registration centers to Ward levels to provide ample opportunities for PWDs to participate in the registration exercise”.
“We wish to reiterate our commitment to the communities of persons with disabilities to continue to promote inclusion and opportunities for PWDs until no one is left behind.”
Grace further calls on persons with disabilities to avail and participate in the CVR exercise against the coming general elections in 2023.
“We, therefore, call on eligible citizens with disabilities who are yet to register to obtain their Permanent Voters’ Card to enjoy this opportunity and register in other to activate the right and exercise your franchise in the coming general elections..”
“We will continue to collaborate with CSOs, OPDs, and relevant agencies to provide effective sensitization campaigns and mobilization for PWDs to participate in the Voter Registration exercise.”