By Iyakale Yakubu
Jos (Nigeria) — The over 25 million People With Disabilities (PWDs) in Nigeria, have decried absence of concrete measures put in place to ease challenges faced by them to exercise electoral rights, especially voting during elections.
Patricia Pam, an official of ‘Inclusive Friends Association’, an NGO, said despite the large population, people with disability lack electoral materials that is easy to use at polling units.
“We are excluded from electoral processes because polling units are not accessible to us, the electoral materials are not produced in Braille so the visually impaired cannot access information to make informed decision to enable them cast them votes,” she said.
Mrs. Pam who was speaking on the occasion of the 2016 International Day of Persons with Disabilities said the focus was to draw attention of the populace to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, especially in relation to inclusiveness for PWDs in every sector of the society including governance.
“We are an association with five thematic areas which are peace building, democracy and peace governance, income and livelihood, inclusive education, community health.” She said
According to her, an accessibility audit study conducted by the NGO on polling units in Edo elections and the recently concluded Ondo gubernatorial elections showed that PWDs did not have access to polling units and other electoral materials.
Mr. Pam also expressed worry that women with disabilities were discriminated especially during ante natal visits in health facilities, because of the stigma surrounding disability.
She explained that the association has embarked on advocacy visits to health personnel’s so that the PWDs were treated with human sympathy.