It’s exactly Forty-Five Days to the Nigerian General Elections of 2023.[I] According to “C” part in the preamble of the United Nations Convention of Rights of Persons With Disabilities (UNCRPD), it Reaffirming the universality, indivisibility, interdependence, and interrelatedness of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and the need for persons with disabilities to be guaranteed their full enjoyment without discrimination.[ii]
On Tuesday, September 27, 2022, The Inclusive Friends Association officially launched the VOTE-ABILITY campaign which advocates for PWDs inclusion by engaging all election stakeholders at various levels to be accountable for their statutory responsibilities. The campaign seeks to engage stakeholders such as the electoral umpire Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Security agencies, Political Parties, Media agencies, citizens, and a concentration on the community of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
In fulfillment of the campaign’s objectives, it deployed Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) to serve as mobilizers, and observers and increase the campaign on the need for PWDs and other vulnerable groups such as women and youth in the ongoing Permanent Voters Card (PVC) nationwide distribution by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The VOTE-ABILITY Campaign has mobilized PWDs in Abuja, Kano, and Osun and also provided transportation to and from the INEC Local Government Area LGA office to ease the movement and economic stress for the PWDs.
Across the states where VOTE-ABILITY deployed its champions, the following was observed:
There was a huge turnout of citizens for the collection of PVC
It was discovered that some citizens could not get their PVCs as they were unprinted
The low number of the commission staff attend to the crowd
The number of Security personnel is low for the crowd who come for their PVCs, and
Low knowledge of citizens in understanding the provisions of priority collection
However, as INEC decentralized collection from LGA Area Offices to the ward level, the VOTE-ABILITY Campaign calls on INEC to:
Increase the number of its staff across the centers to enable them to meet the increasing demands and turnout of citizens who troop the centers for PVC collection
Increase the number of security personnel deployed to the collection centers for adequate crowd control
Sustain the priority collection of PVCs for PWDs across all collection Centers
Ensure that unprinted PVC is printed to avert disenfranchising citizens from participating in the coming election.
The VOTE-ABILITY like to commend INEC who have demonstrated inclusivity by providing and implementing priority collection for PWDs. The campaign further encourages citizens to take advantage of the ward-level distribution to get their PVCs.
IFA acknowledges the efforts of other partners on the Sixty Percent of Us, YES, DEAN Initiative, TASCK, and other stakeholders in ensuring the electoral system is accessible to PWDs.
IFA appreciates the funding support from Yiaga Africa and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for making the VOTE-ABILITY a reality
Thank you for your extremely helpful attention to this matter.