***Say We’re All Stakeholders
LAGOS – As the general elections draw near, the Centre for Disability Issues (CDIs), Lagos, has called for electoral sensitization for its members as is done for others across the nation.
The above statement was contained in a letter sent to governors of the 36 states of the federation, including Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Headquarters, Abuja.
The letter, which was signed by Coordinator of the center, Kehinde Oshilaja, said: “What is good for the goose, is also good for the gander,” emphasising that in as much as a “similar sensitisation is often organised for the able-bodied people, it is also pertinent that such sensitisation be done for People With Disabilities (PLWDs) across the states and the Federal Capital Territory.”
“It is indeed a year of renewed hope for a better Nigeria and Lagos, which no doubt demands participation of all stakeholders, including Persons With Disabilities (PWDs)”, Oshilaja said.
The Center suggested that a sensitisation programme be organized for all PWDs before the elections, which among others, should comprise stakeholders in all senatorial districts, zonal heads, religious leaders, traditional leaders, market men and women, civil societies and media practitioners.
The disabilities foundation also called on presidential and governorship candidates to come up with tangible policies and programmes that will alleviate their sufferings in the country.
Another vital issue raised in the letter was the inclusion of their members in the decision-making process, especially those decisions that would alleviate the sufferings of their members, as well serve as new grounds and ideas for all PWDs.
“We are looking at a commitment to ensure that people with disabilities are part of governance, to ensure that PWDs are not left behind in government’s programmes and activities, in particular, the recruitment of officials for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), but we are yet to see any among the leading candidates”, Oshilaja said.
The coordinator also called on electoral officials to provide adequate structures for proper accessibility of polling booths, proper training on how to communicate with voters in terms of hearing impairment and officers readily available to assist the visually impaired in the absence of Braille ballot papers, so PWDs can vote independently without intrusions of relatives or party agents.