By Chinedu Adonu
ENUGU – INDEPENDENT National Electoral Commission, INEC, has charged Persons Living with Disabilities (PWDs) on active participation in all aspects of electoral process.
INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Enugu state Dr Emeka Ononamadu made this call in Enugu on Monday during a one day voter education and sensitization forum organised by INEC for peoples living with disabilities, PWDs.
Dr Ononamadu who was represented by INEC Head of Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Abuon Edor, lamented the inability of the PWDs to contest for political offices during the 2019 general election urging them to register with political parties and vie for political offices in 2023.
“You must participate fully in electoral process because you are all citizens of Nigeria and have right to vote and be voted for. Those that are interested in holding political offices are qualified to contest so you should register with any political parties of your choice and contest for the election as people will vote for you”.
He informed that INEC has made adequate provision for PWDs to vote during 2019 general election noting” PWDs are very important citizens so we give them special perseverance for allowing them to vote first before other electorates.
Presenting a paper titled “Ensuring the Participation of People with Disabilities in 2019 general elections”, Rose Ezeugwu, INEC State Training Officer said the inclusion of all citizens of Nigeria in the electoral process is paramount in all strategies of Nigeria in the electoral process of INEC.
“PWDs have fundamental human rights which include right to vote and be voted for. In that regard all the assistive aids that should help PEDs participate in electoral activities is employed now, more than ever before in Nigeria, to ensure that this portion of the voting populace is fully included,” she said
She said INEC has provided innovation in electoral process for PWDs which includes development of poster (ECB30E) which is aimed at guiding PWDs on how to cast their votes as well as consideration of PWD in the polling units and voting points.
She thereby enjoyed them to reciprocate the efforts of INEC by coming out en masses to participate in 2019 general elections noting “both electoral personnel and equipment, where available, will be there to assist you exercise your franchise without violating the secrecy of the ballot in any way”.
In his remarks, Samuel Emeka Obiefuna, Enugu State Coordinator of Disability Policy and Empowerment Consult, commended Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for involving persons Living With Disabilities in electoral process.
He said “INEC is really building inclusive with the release of the PWD active participation in Electoral process document which has become a motivating factor and power for every disabled person.
Also, Anthonia Ezeh, Head of Unit of Civil Society Organization/Petson With Disability said the aim of the meeting was to ensure that PWDs do not feel marginalized as well as enhance greater participation of PWDs in electoral process.
“The objectives of the meeting is also to discuss the role of INEC in ensuring participation of PWDs in 2019 general elections, voter education on how to cast valid votes and conduct on election days as well as roles of persons living with Disabilities in the electoral cycle,” she said.