By Fabian Anawo
The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, CCD, has held a one-day dialogue with frontline political actors and Persons Living with Disabilities, PWDs in Lagos.
The dialogue brought together PWDs, INEC, and representatives of political parties.
According to the Executive Director of CCD, Mr. David Anyaele, the dialogue is to ensure that political parties include PWDs in every one of their activities from the local government to state and federal levels.
Mr. Anyaele said that mainstreaming of PWDs in the affairs of political parties is best now before the main politicking begins.
He accused politicians of always treating issues of PWDs with levity as if they were beggars.
Mr. David Anyaele said that politicians needed to understand the needs of PWDs and include them in their programmes and appoint them in their cabinets.
The Desk Officer, Disability, INEC office in Lagos, Mr. Buba Luca said that INEC has made adequate provisions for PWDs in the 2023 election.
He urged PWDs to register in the ongoing voter registration and ensure that they indicate the nature of their disability so that INEC can send assistive devices to their respective polling booths.
He also advised those who had registered before to go and review their registration online and include the nature of their disability which was not captured before.
According to Mr. Luka, only fifty-six thousand four hundred and forty persons with disabilities have registered fully in the ongoing INEC voter registration.
He said that another one hundred and seventy-three thousand, six hundred and fifty-four have registered online but are yet to be captured.
Mr. Luka said that INEC has trained its officers and ad-hoc staff on how to attend to PWDs during elections and had procured different assistive devices like magnifying glasses for use by albinos, and braille ballot guides for the visually impaired, among others.
However, he said that INEC could not deploy the devices effectively during the Ekiti election because previous data did not capture details of PWDs and their polling units.
He said the review of the register of PWDs that have been captured would make it easier for INEC to know the type and quantity of assistive devices to buy and the polling booths to deploy them to.
The Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Committee, IPAC, Lagos State, Mr. Jayelola Olusegun, said that the PWDs have every right to be a part of the mainstream government at all tiers.
Mr. Olusegun said that political parties in Lagos were doing their best to run an all-inclusive party.
He said that IPAC would impress on the two tiers of government in the state to appoint qualified PWDs in their cabinets.
Representatives of political parties that attended the dialogue spoke about how inclusive their parties are and promised that they do not intend to discriminate on any basis.
The parties that are represented are the All Progressive Party, the Young Progressive Party, and the New Nigerian People’s Party.