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Friday, March 24, 2023

2023: INEC Sensitizes Physically Challenged Persons On Elections In Kaduna

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By Abdulwaheed Olayinka Adubi, Kaduna

In an effort to ensure total inclusiveness ahead of the 2023 forthcoming general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Kaduna State, has organized a one-day voter’s education and sensitization programme for physically challenged persons on the use of braille ballot.

The event which was held in Kaduna was aimed at educating and sensitizing the physically challenged persons on the use of braille (a form of written language for blind people in which characters are represented by patterns of raised dots that are felt with the fingertips).

Speaking at the event, the Ag. Director Gender and Inclusivity Mrs. Lakunuya Dorathy Bello explained that voting can be difficult for persons with vision impairment, while the potential for error is high, as ballots papers are not produced with their disability in mind.

The Ag. Director who was represented by Bilksu Abdulsalam, explained that voters who are blind or have low vision are particularly at risk of compromised access to printed ballots and other electoral materials essential to participate effectively in electoral processes, with specific regard to ballot casting, in which such persons very often have the right to vote independently and in secret.

“In recognizing the rights of PWDs as human rights, the Commission within its mandate has taken concrete actions to incorporate PWDs in the electoral process.

“INEC introduced a braille ballot guide for use by voters with visual impairment during the Osun state gubernatorial election in September, 2018.

“The Commission is doing its best to ensure that the electoral process is inclusive and accessible for all eligible Nigerians irrespective of his or her ability because we understand that democratic process can only be credible and inclusive when all stakeholders are given equal opportunity to participate.”

While reacting to the PWDs, the Kaduna head of department voter education and publicity, Rukayyatu Sani Imam, said that the Commission has created a level playground for everyone to exercise his right.

She added that the reason why they gathered all the Leaders is to educate them so that they will go back to their people and sensitize them.

Saying that they believe even if most of them didn’t go to school or have any western education, they can still identify the alphabets to know which party to vote with the little knowledge they have.

“The electoral act has mandated the Commission to prove sensitive materials and that’s why we provide the blind with the braille, while those on wheelchairs will be assisted round and magnifying glass will be provided for those with albinism.

While appreciating the Commission effort, Dr. Micah Shabi, the Executive Director Improvement in Respect to Social Status of Disability disclosed that, it’s a big progress to Nigerian people living with disability and in particular the blind.

He said the law allows any physically challenged person to bring somebody who can assist them vote the exact person they want to vote for on the election day.

Mr. Micah Shabi, appealed to all PWDs not to see the opportunity given to them as a privilege but as their right and they should start making it known to the general public.

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