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CSOs: Free and fair elections are incomplete without inclusion of persons with disabilities

CSOs: Free and fair elections are incomplete without inclusion of persons with disabilities
November 20
16:31 2020

The Institute for Media and Society (IMS) has called for more conscious efforts towards the inclusion of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Nigeria’s electoral process.

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IMS made the call on Tuesday during a webinar held in collaboration with The Albino Foundation (TAF) and the International Press Centre (IPC).

Speaking during the event themed ‘Focusing Journalism on Catalysing Disability-Inclusive Electoral Process in Nigeria’, Jake Epelle, executive director of TAF, said Nigeria’s electoral processes should not be termed free and fair without adequate inclusion of all sectors of the country’s population.

Jake said over the years, disability-focused organisations have taken extra steps to provide the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with data to make provisions for PWDs during elections, but such information was not used.

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He also faulted journalists and media organisations for failing to project the challenges encountered by PWDs before, during and after elections, and proposed that a network of “Journalists for Disability” should be established.

“Every time we talk about free and fair elections, it is incomplete without inclusion. There are capacity and legal gaps. It is not enough for elections to be free and fair, they should be inclusive,” Epelle said.

Also speaking, Lanre Arogundade, executive director of the IPC, said an estimated 20 million Nigerians — 10 percent of Nigeria’s population — are living with disabilities.

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He cited the example of the current use of ballot papers to vote, which he said makes it difficult for visually-impaired voters “due to limited numbers of braille ballots”.

Arogundade, therefore, called on INEC to ensure there is legal backing in the electoral act that will see to adequate preparations to ease participation in elections for PWDs.

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