By Vincent Ujumadu
Awka—THE physically-challenged persons have said they do not need pity from Nigerians, but encouragement to participate fully in the country’s socio-economic and political environments.
Speaking through the Inclusive Friends Association, IFA, as part of activities to mark this year’s International Day for Persons with Disabilities, IDPD, they called on the National Assembly and the National Orientation Agency, NOA, to plan better for People with Disabilities, PWDs, in future and elections by collating the appropriate data for various disabilities.
Executive Director of IFA, Grace Jerry, in a statement, observed that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had made some improvements in ensuring that PWDs were part of the electoral process, adding that they needed to do more.
She said: “As we commemorate the IDPD this year, Nigeria and its citizens must reflect on the barriers that PWDs face in political and electoral processes and partner with Disabled Persons Organizations, DPOs, to remove these barriers.
“Nigeria’s 27.3 million PWDs are willing, able and ready to participate in their country’s political and electoral processes as voters, candidates and election observers.
“The Inclusive Friends Association and its partners conducted polling unit accessibility audits during the 2016 governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states to ascertain the magnitude of barriers faced by PWDs.
“These audits revealed widespread barriers to PWDs participation, including inaccessible polling units and the absence of Braille or Tactile ballots. IFA also conducted a limited observation of the Anambra governorship election and found out that the barriers observed in 2016 were still there.”