The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to make provisions for an “estimated 25 million Nigerians living with disabilities” to vote in the 2019 general elections.
The Senior Programme Officer of the nongovernmental organisation advocating the protection of the rights of persons living with disabilities in Nigeria, Mr Kolawole Ogunbiyi, called for inclusive participation of persons living with disabilities in the 2019 elections.
Ogunbiyi, who was on a courtesy visit to the Punch Place, the corporate headquarters of Punch Nigeria Limited at Magboro, Ogun State, with his team on Thursday, said from observation of past elections, INEC would have to do more to provide the necessary facilities and conditions for persons living with disabilities to vote in the next elections.
He said, “We have been involved in the electoral process in Nigeria to see that persons living with disabilities can equally participate in the electoral process without barriers.
“We deployed persons with disabilities to observe the elections to check for things like access to polling units, reading and instructions materials for persons with visual and hearing impairment and so on.
“And we discovered that some of the polling units were set up in places where someone in a wheelchair or using crutches would not be able to access.”
He noted that the situation could pose a challenge to as many as 25 million Nigerians, whom he said were “living with one form of disability or another.”
“In Nigeria, it is estimated that persons living with one form of disability or another are about 25 million. In Africa, it is the combination of the population figures of five or six countries that will give you 25 million, so neglecting people like that is like neglecting a sub-region,” he said.
The World report on disability, published in 2011, said about 25 million Nigerians had at least one disability, while 3.6 million of these had very significant difficulties in functioning.
Ogunbiyi also lamented the poor enforcement of the Lagos State Special People’s Law passed in 2011.
“That law provides for a five-year transitory period within which public institutions are expected to comply with the provisions of the law, but we discovered that most institutions have not yet complied with the law,” he said.