The Albino Foundation (TAF) has urged journalists to report activities around inclusion of PWDs in electoral process.
The call was made by The Chief Executive Officer of The Albino Foundation TAF, Amb. Jake Epelle during the One-Day Capacity Building Workshop On Inclusive Media Reportage for 2023 Elections with the theme: Disability-Inclusive reporting for journalists in the electoral process.
The event which took place on Friday in Abuja is part of TAF’s activities towards ensuring the inclusion of persons with disabilites in the 2023 elections.
Amb Jake Epelle in his opening remark said that the gathering is to appeal to journalists to report issues of disability more.
He said that issues on disability have not gotten so much media attention.
“Many of you have done well but there is still very many media professionals who are yet to join to give disability issues headlines in order to draw attention of government officials and development partners on what is being done to address the issues”.
He informed that TAF will set up a situation room at the Transcop Hilton for observing 2023 elections.
He informed that TAF would be launching a disability dashboard which will provide the actual number of PWDs who will be voting in this 2023 elections and also an app that will assist in gathering report from journalists at the field during, this will help to get realtime report of what is happening to PWDs in their different polling units during the elections. This will assist INEC to provide prompt intervention where it is needed and also to aid future plan by INEC for PWDs.
He called on the journalists to report not only TAF activities but activities of other OPDs who are doing great jobs in enhancing the disability inclusion in electoral process.
He also said that we have a golden opportunity now to deepen inclusion of PWDs in Electoral Process because we now have disaggregated data of PWDs even though it is comprehensive of all the eligible voters with disabilities but there is at least something that will get INEC to deploy the needed resources to make the elections inclusive for PWDs.
He also informed that TAF will kick start a media outreach from next week to sensitize PWDs and the public daily on what is expected to make the elections inclusive for PWDs. It will be on till after the election and it is part of activities of ABLE2VOTE project. It will be on Arise TV, AIT, NTA etc.
He encouraged the journalists to follow-up their micro-series known as ABLE2VOTE guide.
He identified vote apathy as the major obstacle to the participation of PWDs in elections because of some reasons, they are not aware of the provisions made available for them, they are not also aware of the procedure and processes to participate.
This campaign is designed to address these gaps to enable them participate. The guide will also be useful for INEC ad-hoc staff and political party agents so that they will all understand what is expected of them in ensuring inclusive election for PWDs.
Comrade Chris Isiguzo, The National President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) while appreciating TAF for putting together the training, urged journalists to recognize the task ahead.
He said that the journalists have received requisite trainings from different quarters including NUJ to ensure that free, fair, credible and inclusive elections is delivered by INEC in 2023.
“When you talked about the major stakeholders in elections, the media, INEC and Security agencies are vital to a successful elections and the three must work together if we must achieve an election that is free, fair, credible and inclusive”.
Speaking further, he congratulated TAF for developing disability dashboard which the INEC Chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu took time to talk about during his presentation at the Chatham House recently.
The dashboard will guarantee an appreciable level of inclusivity in the 2023 elections.
“The training is to remind us that we should focus on the tiniest details in the coverage of the 2023 elections, we shouldn’t only focus on political office holders and candidates, they are very few, we should show interest on PWDs, how do they vote, it is very important, we must ensure that every segment of the society is not disenfranchised, that will be when we know that we have done the right thing and the election is credible, election is not credible if some people are disenfranchised”
He also advised journalists to avoid fake news which has taken the centre stage especially as we approach the election.
Journalists should ensure that they verify the source of stories that are chunking out to avoid misinforming the public that they are meant to inform.
If your story is not meant to enhance development, curb poverty and improve the system but for the promotion of few selfish politicians, you are not doing the right thing”.
Lanre Arogundade, the Executive Director, International Press Centre (IPC) who facilitated a session on Understanding PWDs-Inclusive reporting as a platform for promoting the image and enhancing the voices of PWDs, called on journalists to apply as a strategy known as RUSH which means Report Until Something Happens. He urged journalists to report disability issues until they begin to get the attention of all stakeholders.
He also advised that journalists should see PWDs as every other person, they are doctors, lawyers, engineers, professionals in their own rights. So, he urged journalists to feature PWDs in all discussion especially when marking International Days.
He concluded by summarizing that media to mainstream disability inclusive issues, there should be Knowledge of the issues, Consciousness to the issues and the right Attitude towards the issues, with these three key things, the media could help set the appropriate disability-Inclusive agenda at all times as part of it’s overall agenda setting social responsibility.
TAF team gave insight on relevant information for the media to amplify and the overview of the disability dashboard and the app focusing more on how to use them.
At the end, a WhatsApp platform of the journalists who will play part of enhancing inclusive electoral process for PWDs in the 2023 elections.