Persons With Disabilities in Ekiti State have been advised to change the narrative come June 18 2022 governorship election in the state by coming out in large number to vote for candidate of their choices.
However a call was also made to the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC Ekiti State to ensure the provision of assistive materials for Persons with Disabilities during the election so as to enable them to participate seamlessly.
These and more are the outcome of Access Nigeria Campaign Get Out the Vote (GOTV) Town Hall Meeting with Persons with Disabilities (PWD), Media and Stakeholders held at11th House Hotels, Near Bawa Estate, Adebayo, Iworoko Road, Ado-Ekiti on Tuesday May 24, 2022.
Speaking separately, the various clusters of the PWDs narrated their experiences over the years and among their recommendations were the need for improved awareness and training of INEC Ad-hoc staff on how to relate with PWDs.
That INEC should ensure compliance with Sec 54 of the electoral Act, partner security agencies to give support and security to PWDs, provide assistive materials such as Braille Ballot, Magnifying glasses for Albinos, place ballot boxes at accessible places among others.
In her address of welcome, Executive Director, of the Inclusive Friends Association, Grace Jerry said the programme which was supported by NDI was aimed at reawakening the consciousness of the PWDs on their rights and the need to exercise their civic responsibilities.
She said “IFA considers this Get Out the Vote (GOTV) Town Hall with Persons with Disabilities (PWD) meeting very strategic as it will provide a leed way as we prepare for the gubernatorial elections in Ekiti June 18, 2022.
“The Access Nigeria Campaign have over the years documented good successes through GOTV engagement which provide PWDs the opportunity to synergize their idea and document strategies to mobilize PWDs communities in Participation during the Ekiti State Governorship Election.
As an Organisation of PWDs, we recognize the efforts of INEC, security agencies, political parties and the media as their efforts over the years to the plight of PWDS are not unnoticed.
I like to emphasize that, this meeting is not to witch-hunt any Stakeholder but rather to document the gains made, identify challenges, and pave way for collaborations in other to provide adequate recommendations to better the lot of PWDs during the aforementioned elections.
She listed some of the challenges in mobilizing PWDs in previous elections including but not limited to:
Family influence in discouraging PWDs
Absence of systems
Low knowledge of existing systems
Insecurity issues etc.
Grace Jerry said she also looked forward to observing the full implementation of section 54(2) of the Electoral Act, 2022 which mandates INEC to provide necessary assistive materials and accessibility to persons with disabilities towards an independent voting process.
In a remark, the Country Director, National Democratic Institute, Dr. Steve Snook represented by programme Officer, Judith Edosa appreciated the participants and management of IFA with a promise to continue to support programmes that would make life better for PWDs.
Also the Director of the National Orientation Agency Ekiti State, Mrs Olubumi Famuyiwa appreciated IFA for organizing the programme and promised that NOA would continue to do its best and creating awareness on how to create better environment for PWDs and the need for them to vote.