The Inclusive Friends Association (I.F.A.) and its partners Network for the Advancement of Persons with Visible Disabilities (NAPVID) and Voice Nigeria, through her Data for Inclusion project had on Tuesday August 26 2021 held a public presentation of the research on the participation of persons with disabilities in the continuous voter registration in Abuja .
The meeting had in attendance dignitaries from various agencies such as the National House of Assembly, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Orientation Agency (NOA), National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD), Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) and Voice Nigeria.
Speaking at the occasion, Executive Director Grace Jerry in her welcome address stated that the Data for Inclusion research was conducted to identify factors leading to Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) lackadaisical attitudes towards the Continuous Voter Registration being conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“The data for inclusion project started primarily because persons with disabilities were not indefinable in the voters’ register of the INEC… The research was conducted mainly to identify and understand some of the factors responsible for this low participation of persons with disabilities in the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) process beyond the obvious marginal reasons most of us know about.”
Grace further calls on relevant agencies such as INEC, National Orientation Agencies (NOA) PWD leaders, and Media houses to work with the recommendations made in the research work, to make the electoral process accessible and inclusive for all PWDs.
The event had a review session by Mr Jide Ojo (Executive Director OJA Consults) who commended IFA for the mile stone achievement of making available information that were non existent. He further implore the NCPWD, INEC to partner with IFA to engage in the preparation for future elections
“I thank Inclusive Friends for this pioneering research effort aimed at given a fair sense of political and social inclusion to PWDs in the electoral process. It is high time National Disability Commission supports or partners OPDs like IFA to be able to robustly engage the preparations for future elections. INEC should continue to strive harder to meet the demands of PWDs for better political participations in future elections.Beyond the OPDs support for PWDs, everyone of us must see PWDs as community of persons with all the rights and privileges constitutionally guaranteed for Nigerians and should therefore lend our supports to the enhancement of those political and civic rights”
Invited dignitaries were not left out as they extended their goodwill massages. The Executive Secretary National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) James Lalu commended IFA for the efforts done to close the gap in inclusion processes. He further admonishes INEC to publish numbers of persons with disabilities who registered in the Continuous Voter Registration, to advance the relevance of the PWDs community.
“I sincerely acknowledge IFA for working tirelessly in bridging this gap by creating the necessary and promoting effective participation in our political lives… We implore INEC and IFA to make sure that the number of persons with disabilities who have registered is published because the more these numbers are published, the more our strength is popularly announced and everybody will know that the disability community has power as we approach 2023 general elections”.
Similarly speaking, the Deputy Chair House Committee on Disability Hon. Konsol Longap retreated the commitment of the house of representatives towards inclusive processes of PWDs in social and political space
“The National Assembly especially the House of Representatives is and always be committed to the course of improving the lives, activities, and participation of persons with disabilities. That is why it particularly has a standing house saddled with the responsibility of supervising, investigating, and recommending policies and laws that will better the lives of PWDs in Nigeria. We encourage stakeholders and Civil Society Organizations like the IFA to keep up the good work to the glory of God and development of humanity”.
Speaking also, the Director, Public Education, and Ethics, National Orientation Agency (NOA) Abuja, Mrs. Ruth Ogun facilitated with IFA on the success of their research and commits to partner with the organization in disseminating sufficient information about the Disability Act. She further emphasized that recommendations from the report will aid NOA with initiatives to engage the Disable communities.
“We congratulate IFA and its partners for the successful presentation of this evidence-based research expected to guide further programs. This effort is germane to the inclusive improvement of persons with disabilities in all sectors, especially in the political and electoral process. NOA is committed to continuing to partner with IFA and other relevant organizations to ensure that provisions of the Act are widely understood by citizens for effective and responsive engagement where everyone is recognized provided the level playing ground for inclusiveness where no one is left behind. The lessons shared at this forum will further strengthen the capacity of NOA in its electoral initiatives and interventions especially with the PWDs”.
Still, on the goodwill, Mr. Emmanuel Oladele from Voice Nigeria commended the efforts of IFA for the stride in providing data that has been for long non-existent. He further urged all and sundry to commit to the recommendations made in the report.
“Over the past five years, Voice Nigeria has supported numerous organizations who have carry out different projects. One very thematic problem in the Nigerian electoral system that has been overlooked is the indiscriminate marginalization and exclusion of persons with disabilities in the governance and electoral process of this country. But so far, we are very happy to have organizations like IFA take proactive action to cover that gap. They have done exceedingly well by providing data that 10-20 years ago were non-existent. We at Voice Nigeria are very proud of what we can achieve in partnership with I.F.A. I want to implore that we take the research work and the recommendations therein back to our levels of work and ensure that no one is left behind”.
While unveiling the research work, the Executive Secretary NCPWD James Lalu implored all agencies and organizations to study the report and make use of the gaps identified and take actions necessary to enhance inclusiveness and accessibility of persons with disabilities in the political space.
The Data for Inclusion “Closing the gap: is a research on the continuous voter registration”. The research was conducted by The Inclusive Friends Association and its partners in Abuja, Adamawa, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Ondo and Sokoto State to provide an overview of the various voter registration experiences/realities of persons with disabilities in Nigeria. The aim of the study is to promote disability-inclusive voter registration and encourage disability-inclusive civic and public education in future CVR exercises. The pathways to be provided would improve INEC mechanism to ensure an accessible voter registration and improve election outcomes for PWDs in Nigeria. Copies are also available in Braille and PDF formats. This is the first of its kind