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2023 General Elections: TAF-Africa presents “PWD Election Hub” Post-election report on participation of PWDs

The Albino Foundation (TAF) now known as TAF-Africa has presented PWD Election Hub post-election report on the participation of persons with disabilities in 2023 general elections.

In a statement presented on Wednesday, signed by Jake Epelle Founder/CEO, TAF Africa, TAF Africa’s observation of the 2023 presidential and national assembly elections has the objective of ascertaining the active and increased participation of persons with disabilities (PWDs), as well as establishing if the election is inclusive, free, fair, credible, and reflects the supremacy of the electorates’ vote.  Prior to the elections, TAF Africa deployed 700 observers in polling units with registered PWDs and launched its persons with disabilities election hub for the analysis, review, and assessment of key issues capable of undermining the active participation of PWDs in the elections.

Asides from expectations for The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide 21,165 magnifying glasses at 16,071 polling units for persons with albinism and minor visual impairment, 6,167 posters at 5,085 polling units for persons with hearing impairment, and 8,117 braille ballot guide at 5,957 polling unit for the visually impaired across the country, persons with disabilities are supposed to enjoy priority voting, which is their legal right as contained in section 54, sub section 1 & 2 of the electoral act.

Unfortunately, these expectations were not totally met, and it successfully frustrated the participation of persons with disabilities in the elections. The process was flawed by violence, the lateness of polling officials, and the communication gap by INEC.

For instance, in the FCT, Gwarinpa ward, KARON-MAJIGI disabled community polling unit, persons with disabilities were not allowed priority voting which discouraged their participation despite having a good number of persons with disabilities registered.

Kubwa Village/Kofar Sarki and Deidei primary school front of primary two block both in Kubwa Ward, Bwari area council are expected to have at least 6 and 13 registered visually impaired persons respectively. As such at least 1 braille ballot guide should be provided at these polling units. On the contrary, large font posters for the deaf were the only assistive devices made available.

Similarly, persons with albinism registered at games village Garki Ward, Kabusa Ward, and Saburi II Health Center Gwagwa Ward, all in the Abuja Municipal area council (AMAC), were not provided with Magnifying glasses.

Generally, Data from our field observers who covered 532 polling units across the country showed 42% late arrival of polling officers; braille ballot guide for the visually impaired was only available at 24%; Magnifying glasses for persons with albinism were available at 21% while large font posters for the deaf were only available at 58%. 71% of the polling units with registered persons with disabilities covered by our field observers were accessible to persons with disabilities.

To this, TAF Africa calls on INEC to provide details on how assistive tools were deployed to various polling units, bearing in mind the various clusters of disabilities and their peculiar needs.

We also appeal to The Independent National Electoral Commission to fulfill its promise to the community of persons with disabilities by adequately deploying the assistive tools in the march 11 gubernatorial and state assembly elections and address the issues presented from the just concluded elections. This will help build the confidence of the disability community in the electoral process, which was marred by the unsatisfactory delivery of the presidential and national assembly elections.

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