The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Wednesday urged political parties and other stakeholders to create unhindered access for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) to participate actively and effectively in political activities.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Outreach and Partnership Committee (OPC), Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, made this remark at the “Virtual Validation Meeting on the Disability Inclusion Guide.”
Ogunmola said it was only when PWDs were given unhindered access that the country could say equality was guaranteed in tandem with relevant national and international laws.
These according to him include the National Disabilities Act, the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Nigeria Constitution (2010 as amended).
He reiterated the commission’s commitment to equal access and participation of all eligible citizens in the electoral process.
He said that INEC within decades had reviewed its processes and structures to align with global best practices in stakeholders engagement in the electoral process.
“These reforms include but not limited to broadening the access and inclusion of PWDs in the electoral and political processes.”
Ogunmola said that the conduct of free, fair and credible elections depended to a large extent on voters’ trust and confidence in the process.
He said that it also include their ability to exercise their franchises without hindrances
“In line with this the Commission is not resting on its oax as we are committed to effectively collaborate with stakeholders’ for inclusion of PWDs and other disadvantage groups in our Electoral notice.”
According to him, the guide document marked a milestone in the commission’s commitment to inclusion on PWD in the electoral process.
He said that the documents would assist stakeholders to expand political space and ensure equal access for persons with disabilities.
“This document is an inclusion guide for PWD, political parties, election management bodies and security agencies.
“It will not only assist political parties and other stakeholders to plan adequately for the inclusion of PWDs in their activities, it will also enable security agencies to understand disability issues in election.
“The document will as well equip the PWDs themselves to better understand the political spheres and contest elective positions within their parties,” Ogunmola said.
Ekaete Umoh, President, joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities,
commended INEC efforts at ensuring PWDs were included in the electoral process in line with article 29 of United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
She said that the association looked forward to the collective impact the document would have on 2023 general elections.