By Angela Atabo
The Albino Foundation Africa (TAF Africa), has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure adequate deployment of assistive election materials for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), in Saturday’s elections.
TAF Africa, in its pre-election report on the 2023 Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections on Friday in Abuja ,also tasked INEC on proper usage of the assistive tools .
Prof. Vincent Anigbogu, Board Chair, TAF Africa ,said that the decision to deploy assistive tools such as braille ballot guide ,magnifying glasses and large font posters, among others, would improve the participation of PWDs in the elections .
Anibogu said that though INEC promised to deploy assistive tools in polling units with registered PWDs according to disability type, TAF Africa was worried about the poor implementation during the Feb. 25 elections.
He said: “Many polling units with registered PWDs did not have assistive tools deployed .
“TAF Africa hopes that these gaps and challenges highlighted in our report on the conduct of the Feb.25 elections have been addressed to ensure that eligible PWD voters can vote for their preferred candidates on March 18.
“TAF Africa is also concerned with increasing clashes among political parties and their supporters resulting in heightened tension in some states .
“These conflicts increase the threats of violence on Election Day ;TAF Africa is worried about the disturbing reports of some polling units that are prone to violence .”
Anigbogu said TAF Africa appealed to political parties to speak to their supporters and allow for a peaceful election and avoid heating the polity and making polling units danger zone for PWDs.
TAF Africa Board member, Zainab Suleiman,called on INEC to ensure proper coordination with security agencies to forestall incidences of violence and ensure the safety of voters and polling officials.
Sulieman called on security agencies to respect rights of PWDs, media and observers and work with polling units officials to ensure the protection of PWDs and enforcement priority voting .
She also urged INEC to ensure priority voting according to the 2022 Electoral Act.
Suleeiman called on PWDs to display patriotism during the elections by coming out to cast their votes.
Chief Executive Officer and Founder of TAF Africa, Jake Epelle, said TAF Africa established a PWD Election Hub as a response to PWDs challenges.
Epelle said the foundation would deploy 340 observers in 28 states to monitor the elections.
He added that the election observer app would be used to provide real-time information for the hub on the participation of PWDs and called on citizens to leverage on the app for information and feedback .