Executive Director of Inclusive Friends Association and Convener Access Nigeria Disability Vote Matter campaign, Grace Jerry, said a total of 200 persons with disabilities would be deployed to monitor Saturday’s governorship election in Anambra state.
Jerry disclosed this on Tuesday during an advocacy visit to the Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) with Program Manager, Access Nigeria Campaign Moses Oluwaseyi to solicit the Corps assistances in providing security for the members during and after the elections.
She said the observers would be documenting and reporting various provisions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) including accessibility of voting locations, brail ballot guides, polling unit set up, among others.
She said, “We’re here in Anambra to carry out accessibility audit of PWDs participation in electoral process. We’re also carrying the study in the 21LGAs in the state.
“We’re deploying 200 PWDs stationary observers who will be observing the election. They’ll be observing, documenting and reporting to the data center we’ve set up the various INEC provisions, including ensuring accessibility of voting locations, brail ballot guides, polling unit set up.
“The audit is targeted at addressing the barriers that limit participation of PWDs in election because we want increased participation among our members.
“We’re also engaging security agencies to ensure the lives and rights of pwds, including the 200 observers are secured.
“During the 2016 Edo election, some of our observers were attacked in course of carrying out their mandates, the reason we’re stationing them in their various wards and LGAs.
While lamenting non-involvement of million of persons with disabilities across the country in past elections, occasioned by obvious barriers, Jerry expressed joy that the trend was gradually changing following increased advocacy.
“We have over 31m PWDs across the country who could not be involved in the election process in the past. Those who had time had to defy the odds.
“But with our increased advocacy, we can now boast of increased participation partly because the obvious barriers are being addressed.
Responding, State Commandant, NSCDC, Everestus Obiyo assured the group of adequate provision of security to its members throughout the period of election.
“We’re not unmindful of the peculiarities of your situation. We’ll try our best to partner with you, especially to ensure your safety is guaranteed,” he assured.