The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it is committed to ensuring that 25 million People with Disabilities (PwDs) participate in the 2019 elections.
A National Commissioner in the commission, Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, said this on Monday in Calabar, at a validation meeting on the “INEC Framework on Access and Participation of Persons with Disabilities.”
Ogunmola said that validation of the framework after two years of deliberations by stakeholders showed that INEC was determined to bring in PwDs for full and effective participation in the electoral process.
“Today’s event marks yet another milestone in the commitment of the commission to expanding the electoral space to ensure that the right of all eligible Nigerians to vote and be voted for is guaranteed.
“As a commission, we are committed now than ever to meaningfully uphold and incrementally improve the gains made in the advancement of the right of PwDs to accessible and inclusive electoral process,” he said.
The INEC commissioner explained that the framework was geared towards strengthening INEC as inclusive in its human and financial resources as well as in its practice and process.
Earlier, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Cross River, Dr Frankland Briyai, had said that INEC’s effort on the framework was commendable as it would reduce inequality and exclusion in the electoral process.
“I must commend INEC and all stakeholders for the efforts and rigorous work they have done to bring this policy to this stage of validation.
“When finally adopted, the framework will guide INEC to develop its electoral database, aid in proper planning and provide adequate support and materials needed in the electoral cycle.
“This will also ensure that PwDs participate in all aspects of the electoral process, be it as voters, candidates for elections or as election observers,” Briyai said.
On her part, National President, National Association of Persons with Disabilities, Ms Judith Ekaette, thanked INEC for the framework.
Ekaette said that the policy was in line with international best practices, adding that it would give members of the association the opportunity to participate properly in the electoral process.
“It will break all barriers hindering the smooth participation of PwDs in the electoral process,” she said. (NAN)