The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has established disability desks at its offices nationwide to ensure inclusiveness in the electoral process.
INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Lagos State, Sam Olumekun, made this known in Lagos on Tuesday during a one-day Strategy Meeting on Capturing Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Nigeria.
Olumekun noted that accurate data was a crucial tool for adequate planning and called on critical stakeholders to strategise on the capturing of dis-aggregated data of persons with disabilities across Nigeria.
“We need comprehensive policies to support the needs of those with disabilities. The United Nations believes that there is need to promote the right and wellbeing of persons with disabilities.
“It is in the light of the foregoing that the commission is committed to ensure inclusiveness in the electoral process in the country and has taken giant strides in this regard.
“Some of the activities include establishing a disability desk at the national headquarters, all state offices, as well as the Federal Capital Territory Abuja,” he said.
According to him, INEC will formulate persons with disabilities policy providing various assistive devices during elections.
Also, Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Outreach and Partnership Committee, said that, in practice, it was often difficult for persons with disabilities to exercise their rights.
He said INEC also recognised that all citizens, including men, women, youths and persons with disabilities, held the key to the enthronement of the will of the people in any democracy.
Ogunmola added that the commission was focused on providing a level playing field for all stakeholders in the delivery of credible elections.
“In spite of all the innovations put in place so far, it has become obvious that inclusive election cannot be achieved without the accurate data of PWDs disaggregated by type.
“The unavailability of disaggregated data of PWDs in the country limits the commission’s plan for inclusive and effective participation of PWDs in the electoral process.
“Data on the size, location, type and gender of PWDs is needed to provide the required services effectively and data on the literacy level amongst PWDs is also needed,” he said
The National Commissioner noted that the purpose of the meeting was to provide opportunity to make input and adopt format to be used to disaggregate data of PWDs in the register of voters.
He reiterated the commission’s commitment to access equal participation of PWDs.
The National Commissioner said there was need to capture the disaggregated data of PWDs across the country.
Ogunmola said that capturing disaggregated data of PWDs would assist INEC in knowing the concentration of voters with disabilities, number, gender and type of assistive aid to procure and deploy.
INEC Deputy Director, Civil Society Organizations Division, Mrs Lakunya Bello, said that exclusion of certain groups from decision making created divide and resulted in a less peaceful society.
Bello noted that ensuring that persons with disabilities played active roles in the political and public life of their societies contributed to strengthening respect for their rights.
“Ensuring their participation and inclusion in the society is one of the underlining principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), adopted in 2006,” she said.
The Deputy Country Director, International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Mr Seray Jah, called for sustained statistics on the progress of persons with disabilities to monitor their engagement in electoral process.
He said that the foundation was working closely with the commission in the development of policies to effectively include persons with disabilities.
Acting Chairman, Joint National Association of PWDs, Bayelsa Chapter, Ikilanie Eric, commended INEC’s efforts in carrying them along during the 2019 general elections and called on other government agencies to include PWDs in their work scheme.