Civil Society Groups working on Electoral reforms in Nigeria have demanded that the ongoing Electoral Reforms in Nigeria pay utmost attention to the protection of the voting rights of Persons with Disabilities, PWDs.
The CSO groups explained that the current electoral practices do not give independence to PWD Voters.
The groups made the demands during a press conference on Electoral reform, which was convened by Institute for Media and Society (IMS) and the International Press Centre (IPC), in collaboration with other European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria, EU-SDGN implementing partners.
The groups noted that “electoral reform remains the only way an inclusive electoral system can be achieved.
Hence, the continued call for the enabling legal instruments wherein inclusive participation of all Nigerians to participate in the electoral process is guaranteed.”
They thereafter reiterated that the National Assembly gives utmost consideration to “promoting the inclusion of women, youth, and persons with disability in politics,” as well as “regulating the cost of the nomination of candidates to promote political inclusion.”
Speaking further, David Anyaele, Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, CCD, noted that the Electoral Act made provision for Blind and Visually Impaired voters but revealed that disability is not limited to Blind persons only.
“We are saying that the Electoral Act should capture the ‘protection of votes of Persons with Disabilities, instead of the current provision for Blind and Visually Impaired only.
“This narrow-minded definition of disability to the blind alone is not acceptable,” Anyaele added.
Also responding to the setting up of Gender and Inclusivity Unit by the Independent National Electoral Commission, Anyaele noted that such initiative would ensure that adequate attention is paid to issues of PWDs.”
Earlier, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director, International Press Centre, IPC, said, as a group, we are “amplifying the urgent call from citizens for the 9th National Assembly to rise as the fulcrum of democracy and restore confidence in Nigeria’s journey to democracy through a legislative process that will address gaps in the current electoral legal framework.
“Nigerians deserve a new Electoral Act in which citizens’ aspirations are prioritized and which is produced through adequate timely attention of the National Assembly,” he added.
The EU-SDGN implementing partners are; Institute for Media and Society (IMS); International Press Centre (IPC); Centre for Citizens with Disability (CCD); CLEEN Foundation; Inclusive Friends Association; National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), and Nigeria Women’s Trust Fund.
Others are; Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC); Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ); The Albino Foundation; Yiaga Africa; Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD); Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI) and Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa (PAACA)