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Anambra Guber: NGO commends INEC for providing for PWDs

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By Ben Adoga

As the November Anambra Guber election draws near, with heightened preparation, a non-government organisation, Inclusive Friends Association, IFA has commended the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC for its preparedness to give access to People with Disabilities, PWDs in the forthcoming elections.

In a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, executive director, IFA, Grace Jerry, released the final observation statement on the accessibility of the Anambra Continuous Voter Registration process for PWDs.

She said their observers observed that registration took place, initially in INEC offices in the 21 local government areas of the state before the exercise was later decentralised for greater access.

She said INEC cited security reasons for restricting registration centres to their offices.

She said they were there to observe if there were access to registration centres by PWDs which, in turn, will be same on voting day; they observed that in most of the centres there were adequate  preparedness for access for PWDs.

Jerry said that her NGO observed in 20 out of 21 local governments in the state. The report has it that 14 out of 20 routes, making 70 % of good roads leading the centres, were accessible for PWDs.

The six inaccessible centres were in Dunukofia, Aguata, Oyi, Anambra West, Idemili West and Nnewi South local governments.

However, the group regretted that they observed that entrance access and internal layout to centres in 16 out of 20 centres were inaccessible to PWDs.

The centres with inaccessible venues were in Anaocha, Aguata, Anambra East, Anambra West, Awka North, Awka South, Dunukofia, Ekwusigo, Idemili South, Ihiala, Njikoka, Nnewi -South, Nnewi North, Orumba South, Orumba North, Oyi and Ogbaru.

It was also pleasing when the convener stated that the report observed that priority consideration was given to PWDs in 20 centres observed.

“Access Nigeria observers report that PWDs were allowed priority registration and were treated with high regard,” the report noted.

The group also recommended that INEC should strengthen it’s monitoring of registration officials across the country to ensure quick detection of those who are not providing access.

They also stated that INEC should collaborate with the Deaf Association of Nigeria, Anambra chapter in ensuring that sign language interpreters are engaged in election processes.

That INEC should “immediately incorporate the data of PWDs, disaggregated by types of disabilities collected during the Anambra CVR process into planning for deployment of voting aides like the Braille ballot guide, magnifying glasses, ECT.”

Aderibigbe Shola, assistant secretary, JONAPWD, FCT chapter, who spoke through a sign language interpreter commended the NGO as well as INEC for the initiatives to grant access to PWDs to enable them participate fully in electoral processes.

He stated that IFA had in the past facilitated their meeting with INEC which was very fruitful and urged them to continue doing their best and called on INEC to always endeavour to provide sign language interpreters during elections and election related activities.

The project was supported by USAID and National Democratic Institute, NDI.

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