As a result of the Inclusive Friends Association’s (IFA) consistent advocacy for inclusion and accessibility for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the electoral process, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the training and deployment of thirty-five (35) PWDs as ad hoc staff for the Saturday, July 16, 2022, Osun Gubernatorial Election.
This was announced today, by the Electoral Commission’s Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, during a critical Stakeholders Meeting in Oshogbo to intimate relevant stakeholders of their plans ahead of the Saturday election.
“….In this regard, the 2022 Osun Governorship election will make history, being the first election in which INEC is deploying PWDs as Adhoc Staff. Thirty-five (35) serving NYSC members with one form of disability or another have been identified, trained, and engaged as ad-hoc staff at the polling unit level. I appeal to all stakeholders to cooperate with, and protect them as well as all other ad hoc staff, in our effort to make our electoral process more inclusive and participatory”.
Further in His remarks, Yakubu reiterates the commission’s commitment to deploy assistive materials such as Magnifying glasses, a Braille Ballot Guide, posters for voters with hard-of-hearing conditions, and observe priority queues for voters with disabilities at polling units. This strategy and assistive materials if deployed will guarantee a more pleasant voting experience during the election.
This has been IFA’s advocacies to the commission for the continued deployment of assistive materials in elections, priority queues for PWDs, and the inclusion of PWDs during elections as Ad hoc Staff.
The action by INEC today is in honor of the commitment made during a panel session with PWDs in Oshogbo during our #ParticipateToday Civic and Political Organizing Lab and a communique signed during our 7th Access Nigeria’s Round table with Stakeholders in Abuja by the IFA.
To recall, voters with visual impairments experienced independent voting when IFA designed and recommended the maiden braille ballot guide to the Electoral Commission for the blind to vote independently during elections. The Commission adopted the assistive material and first piloted it in the same Osun State during the September 2018 governorship elections, and in other off-cycle elections in Nigeria.
IFA commends the Electoral Commission for subscribing to an open-door policy, cooperating, and yielding to our calls to prioritize the community of persons with disabilities making the electoral space all-inclusive.
Indeed, INEC Nigeria is setting the pace closing the gaps, and propelling inclusive practices in Nigeria.
IFA reiterates her commitment to continuing this advocacy until we achieve an inclusive and independent voting system for Persons with Disabilities in Nigeria.