Kaduna electoral body seeks data on people with disability

Kaduna state Independent Electoral Commission (Kadsiecom) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to generate data on People with Disability (PWDs) in the state to enable them plan effectively ahead of the forthcoming state local government elections.

Kadsiecom Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Joseph Gambo Akpoko, made the call in Kaduna on Friday while speaking at a one-day sensitisation for Persons With Disability on the Legal Provisions and Right to Participate in Electoral Process, organised by TAF Africa with funding support by Canadian Fund for Local Initiative (CFLI).

He said electoral umpires need to have actual number of Nigerians suffering from albinism, deaf and dumb, the visually impaired, those suffering from leprosy and those with deformities.

Prof. Akpoko said the Kaduna state Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) used for local government elections is easy to operate and people friendly.

“The Electoral Act has identified five categories of People With Disability; those with albinism, the deaf and dumb, the visually impaired, and those suffering from leprosy but we don’t have records of how many people belong to each of the categories. We need those data to plan. It makes it difficult for us to plan and it makes election conduct difficult. It’s INEC’s responsibility to generate such data.

“Disability does not mean they don’t deserve what other people enjoy. For us at Kadsiecom, we don’t discriminate against people with disability. People with disability have to come out and seek whatever positions they want in politics, it is not a game where you can sit at home and expect the post to be given to you, they have to work hard to earn the post they want,” he said.

The Programme Officer TAF Africa, Godfrey Ogah while giving an overview of the Programme, said TAF Africa intends to achieve inclusive and accessible electoral process for PWDs in Kaduna state ahead of the state local government polls slated for 2024. He said the challenges faced by PWDs during electoral process include registration rigours, having to queue to vote, poor information for those in remote areas, poor voters education, inability to vote independently and privately.

The Programme Manager, TAF Africa, Mr. Adeolu Kilanko, said the event aimed at sensitising people with disability towards their inclusion in electoral process ahead of the Kaduna state local government polls before end of 2024. “If you don’t sensitise them they would be excluded, so we have to sensitise them that they have full rights to vote and be voted for in any election in the state. If they don’t vote, or contest for ejection they cannot guarantee their representation.”

The Executive Secretary, Disability Affairs Board, Hajiya Rakiya Umar said PWD are facing lots of challenges in the electoral process. She listed the challenges to include lack of data, physical barriers such lack of interpreter; lack of awareness and sensitisation, limited access to information, lack of basic electoral resources, inclusion, non involvement of the actors. She said the solutions include improvement of accessibility, sensitisation and training, support services, collaboration and cooperation.