An election observer group, The Access Nigeria: Disability Votes Matter Campaign has expressed dismay over inability of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide conducive environment for effective participation of Persons with Disabilities during last Saturday’s governorship election in Anambra state.
Executive Director, Inclusive Friends Association and convener of the Access Nigeria Campaign, Grace Jerry, stated this while presenting a post-election press conference on polling unit accessibility audit on the election.
The electoral umpire had assured Persons with Disabilities of adequate provision of basic requirements for active participation in the electoral process.
Jerry decried that 54 percent of the routes leading to sampled polling units were inaccessible for Persons Living With Disabilities during the election.
She also regretted poor compliance by the electoral body on the rights of PWDs to participate in the political exercise.
She said, “We observed that there were neither ramps nor handrails for use by PWDs outside the sampled units at 94 percent of voting locations. It was difficult for voters with disabilities to enter the polling units and vote.
“From the sampled polling units, voters with disabilities had challenges accessing ballot boxes particularly for those who use wheelchairs, non-deployment of Braille ballot guide.”
Program Manager of the Group, Moses Oluwasheyi charged the electoral umpire to strengthen training of both regular and ad hoc staff to effectively administer accessible materials for voters with disabilities.
“INEC should ensure that voting cubicles are designed to enable voters with disabilities to cast their ballots confidentially as well as ensure ballot no are placed in areas that allow them to vote independently,” he added.
Oluwasheyi also called on National Assembly to provide adequate funding in the 2022 budget for the electoral body to procure assistive materials equipment and services before the conduct of 2022 Ekiti and Osun Guber Polls and 2023 general elections.