Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu has assured Persons Living with Disabilities ( PWDs ) the Commission’s commitment towards ensuring an all-inclusive electoral process in the 2019 General Elections and beyond.
Professor Yakubu gave the assurance during an interactive meeting with representatives of groups of PWDs under the leadership of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) held at the Commission’s Headquarters in Abuja.
The INEC Chairman who was represented by National Commissioner and Chairman, Outreach and Partnership Committee, Dr. Adekunle Ladipo Ogunmola stated that the Commission was working assiduously to develop the framework for engaging PWDs.
He assured that the document would soon be considered for adoption in consultation with relevant stakeholders and be validated subsequently.
Yakubu explained that the Commission while considering the needs of PWDs in the electoral process has included some PWD friendly features in the data capturing process for the on-going nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).
This move, he said, would help develop a database of PWDs and identify their various needs in the electoral process.
He lauded the efforts of the JONAPWD at ensuring that all eligible Nigerians are included in the electoral process, whether as voters, candidates or as observers, adding that the Commission would support the Association in achieving its set objectives.
The Chairman maintained that INEC as a transparent organisation will ensure efforts were sustained at deepening democracy in Nigeria; as it moves to meet international best practices.
In her remark, National Commissioner, Electoral Operations Committee, Mrs Amina Bala Zakari said the Commission was working with State Governments to design PWD friendly polling units in the states. She explained that due to budgetary constraints, the Commission would need stakeholders such as state governments to complement its efforts in ensuring an all-inclusive electoral process.
Earlier, President of Joint Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), Mrs. Ekaete Judith Umoh appreciated the Commission for the consideration given to Persons Living with Disabilities. She said the meeting would provide the opportunity to work with the Commission in ensuring that the INEC Disability Framework was launched before the 2019 General Elections.
Mrs. Ekaete expressed the readiness of JONAPWD to complement the Voter Education drive of the Commission and urged INEC to factor the PWDs in the drafting and crafting of Voter Education materials.