Association Seeks Improved Electoral Participation Of Persons With Disabilities

Nigerians join the rest of the world to recognize the International Day for Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) as proclaimed by United Nations (UN) through resolution 47/3 of 1992 to promote the rights and well-being of Persons with Disabilities(PWDs) in all spheres of society and development.

The day is to increase awareness of the situation of PWDs in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) and its allies on the Access Nigeria Campaign leverages this Day to advocate for change on PWDs issues, especially improved electoral participation.

This year’s IDPD theme being “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”, the focus is to ascertain the impact of COVID-19 on PWDs and chart a way towards recovery.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the world with PWDs among the worst affected groups, the health, economic and other consequences of the pandemic negatively impacted the political and socio-economic wellbeing of PWDs.

In November, IFA commenced COVID-19 impact assessments on PWDs during the 2020
governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states, even as another assessment is also being conducted to measure the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on PWDs in the Federal Capital Territory(FCT), Abuja.

In a press statement to mark the day, IFA said it will present the findings and recommendations from these assessments to
government and other stakeholders for necessary action.

IFA said: “Issues in Nigeria we wish to highlight: Social Protection Policies and Governance: Nigeria has approximately 30 million PWDs or 15 percent of the country’s estimated 200 million population. IFA and other Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs) successfully advocated for the passage/enactment of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act,
2019. We commend the 8th National Assembly and President Muhammadu Buhari for this feat.

“We also commend the President for setting up the National Commission for Persons with
Disabilities in line with Part 7 and 8 of the Act. A competent Executive Secretary and other
personnel were appointed to lead this new Commission.

“The effective implementation of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities(Prohibition) Act, 2019 holds the key to helping PWDs recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, part five of the Act empowers the Commission to implement policies that would improve education and healthcare for PWDs, while part six empowers them to create employment opportunities for PWDs and ensure their participation in politics.

If implemented,the Act has great potential to address the political and socio-economic challenges of PWDs which were either caused or exacerbated by COVID-19.

Recommendations: Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) and its allies on the Access Nigeria Campaign make the following recommendations to help PWDs build back stronger in 2021 and beyond:

“We call on the executive and National Assembly to ensure that the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities is fully funded in the 2021 appropriation bill, now being
considered by the latter, and other budgets in the years to come.

“We call on all DPOs, PWDs, other Nigerian citizens and the international community to
support the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities in implementing policies
that would help PWDs cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We call on the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities to begin preparations
to implement the findings and recommendations from the IFA impact assessment of COVID-19 on PWDs, due for release in a few weeks.

“IFA calls on INEC, the executive, state governments and other stakeholders to implement
the comprehensive recommendations in our 2020 “Breaking the Barriers Report”. Prominent recommendations in that report include making polling units more physically accessible for PWDs and collecting data of PWDs across Nigeria to enhance planning for PWDs during elections.

“IFA acknowledges the efforts that have been made by the different stakeholders in ensuring
electoral accessibility of PWDs. We thank the National Democratic Institute (NDI) for their
continued technical support and partnership. We must also thank the United States Agency for
International Development (USAID) who solely funds our Access Nigeria Campaign”.

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