Inclusive Friends Association seeks’ collaboration with INEC for improved Physical Accessibility in Electoral processes

The huge challenge of physical accessibility remains a scary scourge which attempts to undermine the successes recorded over the years. Physical accessibilities still prevent PWDs from carrying out their civic rights on election day due to the location of polling units where electoral related activities such as polling units and voter registration points are situated.
In an attempt to providing solution on this, IFA today July 9th, 2021 embarked on an advocacy visit to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Abuja, to further discuss modalities on how to provide physical accessibility to polling units.
During the visit, IFA Executive Director. Grace Jerry appreciated the effort of INEC for ensuring Improvements in the electoral processes and commended the commission for creating a Gender and Inclusivity Department.
“thank you for giving us this opportunity out of your busy schedule. Am sure the Access Nigeria campaign is not new to INEC, because together we have made it work for People with Disabilities (PWDs) to be able to have so much access. Remarkable success documented overtime was the Braille ballot guide, magnifying glasses form EC40H to capture the data of PWDs while voting, and priority voting for PWDs. We also commend INEC for coming up with this department ‘Gender and Inclusivity Department’, am glad we have come together now and we pledge our continues support to this new department”.
First right is Grace Jerry (Executive Director Inclusive Friends Association)
IFA team emphasized on the need to improve accessibility at various poling units that has overtime  being a  challenge during elections for PWDs.
“One of the things we put forward before you today is the physical accessibility which has overtime being the barriers. As much as we  celebrate the milestones that have been achieved, it still boils back to the fact that we are yet to achieve physical access in times of voting locations, CVR registration centers …. And we also note that it is not the duty of INEC to create ramps at  this public buildings and locations used for voting and registration, so we are here to see how we can synergize efforts. We look forward to how we can work together to be able to provide access for people with reduced mobility like myself and some other persons with disabilities”.  
Responding to IFA call, the INEC Gender and Inclusivity Director Mrs. Blessing Obidiegwn in her remarks appreciated  IFA for the supports and efforts with regards to advocacies for PWDs to ensure inclusivity in electoral processes and assured IFA’s massage will be considered.
thank you for coming, your massage is clearer, we will take note of what you have read especially your questions and suggestions. at this point the ones that are outside our mandate, the commission will seek advice on what to do. You know we run a bureaucratic system, whatever it is, this letter passes through our commissioner who is unavoidably absent although he delegates us to attain to your visit. What we will do is that we will put this thing together including your own suggestions, strategies and questions and some of the things you would want us to do and try to answer a few to help put things together and send up to him.”
Mrs. Blessing Obidiegwn (INEC Director Gender and Inclusivity)
Further in the call, the IFA Programs Manager Moses Oluwaseyi while speaking, presented the new approach that IFA seeks to engage the commission. He explained that IFA will  engage stakeholder saddled with the mandates of implementing the  Discrimination Against Persons with Disability (Prohibition) Act 2018. The Act serve as a tool to engage with relevant stakeholders towards solving physical accessibility issues.
Left-right Moses Oluwaseyi (Program Manager Access Nigeria Campaign), Grace Jerry (Executive Director-IFA)
“from us in IFA, we are also trying to take a new approach to see how we can assure that physical accessibility becomes a thing of the past. IFA will review  the implementation status on the Discrimination Against Persons With Disability (Prohibition) Act. The act  have provisions and saddled specific agencies with specific mandates to ensure that structures are inclusive. If all agencies implements their mandate provision of the Act, it will provide INEC an avenue having accessible polling units.  inclusion begins from accessibility so we are trying to use another avenue to ensure that INEC is able to achieve physical accessibility for PWDs.”

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