By Sodiq Omolaoye, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday promised to enhance greater participation of persons living with disabilities during the February12 council election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) FCT, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, gave the assurance at a one-day sensitisation meeting with Persons With Disabilities (PWD) towards an inclusive Area Council Election in FCT organised by INEC.
Yahaya, represented by Deputy Director, ServiCom INEC, FCT, Mr. Dennis Ogu, said INEC had taken into consideration the electoral rights of every citizen and taken steps to remove barriers that restrict full participation of PWDs as voters and candidates.
“The Commission has, therefore, put in place several measures to ensure that persons with disabilities are included in the electoral process in the country.
“Therefore, in the forthcoming area council election, the Commission will be providing Braille Ballot Guide and/or magnifying glasses for visually impaired persons.
“Special queues will also be maintained on the election day to give priority to persons with disabilities to cast their ballots with dignity and privacy.
“Other measures will be explained to you by relevant departments in the course of this meeting,” Bello said. The REC said the sensitisation meeting was organised towards ensuring that every registered voter in FCT, including PWDs, exercise his or her civic rights in the election without any hindrance.
The INEC Director, Gender And Inclusivity Department, Mrs. Blessing Obidegwu, presenting the objective of the workshop, said the meeting sought to educate the marginalised groups, especially the PWDS, on voting procedures.
Obidegwu, represented by Mrs. Lakunuya Bello, said the sensitisation was to enable PWDs serve as voter educators themselves, join the Commission in preaching and educating people within their communities to ensure that no eligible voter would be left behind during the forthcoming FCT Area Councils.
“The role of Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) like INEC in a democracy is to conduct free, fair, credible and inclusive elections as well as provide an enabling environment for all eligible citizens irrespective of gender, tribe and disability to exercise their constitutional rights and privileges to vote and be voted for during elections.
“Persons with disabilities have fundamental human rights which include the rights to vote and be voted for and the commission remains a strong advocate in ensuring that PWDs are mainstreamed into the electoral process,” she said.