A Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make elections accessable for the People Living With Disabilities (PLWD).
Speaking at a public presentation of IFA’s 2023 general election observation report, the executive director OF IFA Grace Jerry says through the vote-ability campaign deployed 250 person’s with disabilities (PWDs) election observers across 21 States of the federation, Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Abia, Oyo, Osun, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Ogun, Bauchi, Plateau, Gombe, Anambra, Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Ekiti, Taraba, to measure the deployment of PWD assistive materials, usage of PWD voter assistive materials at the polling units.
According to Grace 55 percent of polling units in Nigeria (sampled states) were located in public open spaces, while 45 percent were located in public buildings. Of those polling units including schools, bus stops, markets, court premises, town halls, health centers, etc, 54 percent were found to be inaccessible for voters with disabilities.
Lack of accessible spaces and buildings have larger implications beyond elections. For example, if schools are not accessible for voters, then they are not accessible for students with disabilities.
“we at IFA are disheartened by the lack of accessible polling units, insufficient deployment of voting materials for voters with disabilities as evidenced by the deployment of the Braille ballot guides to only 35 percent of the polling units during the general election,” Grace said.
The executive director of IFA calls on INEC to implement the above recommendations at the next off-cycle elections.