The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) as part of its advocacy in mainstreaming the rights of people with disabilities in the electoral process has called on the government of Osun State to sign into law and begin the immediate implementation of the National Disability Rights law.
This call was made at a one day virtual engagement in assessing INEC’s preparedness for the 2022 Osun guber elections as it relates to the rights of persons with disabilities in participating in the elections in the state with critical stakeholders in the Nigerian development space in attendance.
In his opening remarks the Executive Director of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, David Anyaele said part of the job of the organization is to monitor compliance of State institutions to relevant disability laws particularly the national Disability law, the Electoral Act, government policies as it relates to persons with disabilities and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Executive Director recalled that last month they made similar presentations in Ekiti State which led to massive reforms in the State gubernatorial elections vowing not to relent in their quest to ensure compliance with laws and policies that make life meaningful for persons with disabilities.
Contributing in the same vein Ugochukwu James co-Convener of the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room hailed CCD for there efforts at issues concerning persons with disabilities, saying it was as a result of CCD’s efforts that the discriminations against person with disability (prohibitions) act was passed into law.
In her remarks Chief of Party SCALES Lydia Odeh stated that it is very important that inec rolls up it sleeves judging from the Ekiti State elections and make adequate improvements in Osun, saying there is the adequate legal framework but there is need for more advocacy.
The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities called on the Osun State government to sign the National Disability law and on INEC this is to reduce the application of charity based approach in addressing disability issues:
To Take bold steps to improve on Accessibility of Polling units for PWDs in Osun State for all PWDs particularly for those on wheelchairs and crutches .as majority of facilities used for elections are State owned. This could be achieved through siting of Polling Units in accessible environments.
Make election materials and facilities accessible for all PWDs. This includes ensure the availability of Form EC40H at the Polling Units, and assistive resources such as sign language interpreters, tactile ballot jackets, braille ballot paper and magnifying lenses,
Train election day ad-hoc staff adequately to appreciate their roles and responsibilities to PWD Voters. Findings from previous election observations shows that an average INEC Adhoc staff don’t understand what assistive devices for PWDs means.
Ensure the mainstreaming of PWDs issues in public sensitizations to reverse negative public perceptions and attitudes towards them. The level of engagement of INEC with the disability community in the State is impressive. However, the general public needs to be carried along as well.
INEC to encourage deaf voters to come with personal sign language interpreters to the Polling Unit to minimize communication gap between the Adhoc Staff at the Polling Units and the Deaf voters.
INEC should mainstream issues of concern in the development of security architecture for the election. Sustain their collaboration with the security agencies to reassure the electorate of their safety and security, to down tension and brace up security challenges especially in some flashpoints to ensure accessible, credible, free, fair, and peaceful elections.
The Media houses in Osun State and other media election stakeholders should take appropriate measures to mainstream people with disabilities in their narratives on the election. This is to ensure inclusivity in media engagements on the elections
Support in raising awareness and public enlightenment on the National Disability act, INEC framework on persons with disabilities, the newly signed Electoral Act 2022 and promote the passage of the Disability Bill by the Osun State Government.
The Civil Society and the non governmental organizations should assist in extending voter’s education and capacity building for persons with disabilities
Collaborate with INEC and other stakeholders to support INEC-trained PWDs to step-down the training to their members in the rural areas to ensure no one is left behind in voter education,
Interface with PWD Opinion Leaders and leaders to step down information on voters’ education and training from INEC to their cluster members. This will ensure that no cluster is excluded in citizens mobilizations for the election.
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