By Faith Igbudu
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been urged to include persons with disabilities as part of the adhoc staff for the 2023 general elections to drive an all inclusive participation.
This was the submission of a non profit organization, Foundation for Justice Development and Peace (FJDP), in collaboration with Irish Aid, as they unveiled the project: Strengthening Local Advocacy for Disability Inclusive Electoral Processes on Thursday in Makurdi, Benue state.
According to them, statistics reveal that about ten million votes may be lost during the 2023 general elections in Nigeria if People Living with Disabilities (PLWD) are excluded in the entire electoral process and that is worrisome.
Programme Manager for the project, Valentine Kwaghchimin giving a background to the objective said the organization is “pushing for disability inclusiveness in election processes for increased civil participation of People Living with Disabilities (PLWD) by 2023.”
He said Nigeria does not get 100 percent of the electoral process because it fails to create an all inclusive participation. He added that it is the civic right of every Nigerian and everything must be put in place to ensure everyone is carried along.
“If ten million persons are exempted from the electoral process it means our quality of electoral process is going to be affected and FJDP saw it as a matter of concern that ten million Nigerians who have civic rights will be excluded from the electoral process?
“While the participation of women in our electoral process is gradually improving, that of persons with disabilities is still very low, hence the reason for this project,” he added.
Sharing experiences through the use of sign language, Chairman, Benue State Hearing Impaired, Richard Ityo-Uba, lamented the unjust treatment PLWD get on account of their vulnerability and hoped that the project will yield good results.
Some of the stakeholders, including Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Benue state chapter, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Orientation Agency (NOA) among others in their separate remarks, commended the organization for the initiative. They promised in their capacities to partner with the project.
Earlier, in a welcome address, FJDP Administration Manager, Blessing Adzaagee, who stood in for Director of the Center, Rev Fr Remigius Ihyula, said the Commission is a social arm of the Catholic Church. She said the commission focuses on protection of the vulnerable groups and peace building in the society, saying that it is open to any suggestions that will add to the work in these areas.