The Center for Citizens with Disabilities, CCD, has decried high level of non engagement of People with Disabilities, PWDs, in electoral process in Lagos.
The Center made the observation, following the outcome of its assessment of the level of engagement of the group by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, LASIEC, in the upcoming Local Government Election, scheduled to hold in the State tomorrow Saturday July 24, 2021.
In a media engagement to unveil its findings, Executive Director of CCD, David Anyaele, regretted that at no level the agency engaged PWDs at least to find out what challenges they face and to ensure their full participation at the elections.
Anyaele, regretted that such action would go a long way in disenfranchisement of most people with different degree of disabilities.
The CCD therefore recommended for the urgent action by electoral stakeholders in Lagos State and LASIEC as a matter of urgency should collaborate with the Lagos State Office of Disability Agency, LASODA, the Joint Association of People With Disabilities JONAPWDS and other relevant OPDs to include in their electoral guideline the disability component in order to address the needs and concerns of persons with disabilities in the forthcoming July 2021 Local Government Election.
LASIEC should include PWDs as ad-hoc staff, election observer and create column for PWDs in their voters’ registration, CCD demanded.
Anyaele, further recommended that LASIEC as a matter of urgency should roll out aggressive public awareness programmes on their provisions and preparations for the PWD to ensure equal voting access and participation in the forthcoming July 2021 election and ensure that electoral materials are available in accessible and understandable formats for the visually impaired (Blinds) and hearing impaired (deaf) clusters in the forthcoming election in order to avoid violating of PWDs voting right.
Also, all polling units are accessible for PWD on wheelchairs/crutches; provisions should be made for signage posters, sign language interpreters for the hearing and auditory impaired (deaf), and Braille ballot paper for the visually impaired (blind) as well as magnifying glasses for the albinos in order to ensure inclusive electoral participation for all PWDs in Lagos State.
The Center also requested LASIEC should give voting priority to all persons with disabilities and other vulnerable group in the forthcoming elections. Bearing in mind that PWDs and in particular, person with albinism may not be able to stay long under the scorching of the sun while on a queue to avoid other health challenge such as skin cancer.
In addition there should be collaboration with Nigerian Center for Disease Control, NCDC to ensure proper provisions are made to observe all COVID-19 safety protocol for the public safety of all vulnerable groups especially persons with disabilities. “LASIEC should collaborate with all the security agencies to brace up security in order to ensure full protection of lives and properties of all voters especially persons with disabilities during and after the forthcoming LG election in Lagos State. LASODA should make deliberate effort to ascertain from LASIEC that electoral materials are available and accessible in an understandable format for all PWDs in the forthcoming election.
“LASODA should collaborate with LASIEC to ensure PWDs are not left behind as election observer, ad-hoc staff and key stakeholders in this forthcoming election. • LASODA should always make deliberate effort in ensuring that LASIEC involve them fully while developing electoral materials for PWDs in the subsequent elections.” he added.