By Kemi Yesufu
In a bid to ensure inclusion for the 2023 election, founder of the Albino Foundation, Mr. Jake Epelle announced on Wednesday, that 700 Persons With Disabilities will be deployed as election observers.
Speaking at the Able2Vote programme for North Central zone, held in Abuja, Epelle, also announced that the Senate and the House of Representatives would be assigned sign language interpreters.
He said: “We are starting with being able to vote. We are also focusing on electability. Electability is a programme that will focus on those vying for elective offices and also for those that will be appointed into appointive offices.
“We are going to be deploying 700 Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) as observers. In our electoral hub, with partnership with the Independent National Electoral Commission, we will deploy an on-the-spot app that will give us an on-the-spot assessment of what is happening in every polling unit.
“We are also deploying members of the community as interns, not only in the Federal Capital Territory, but also to states to ensure that we begin to give the opportunity to the PWDs to learn from those already in the House so that they can be future legislators. We are grateful to the Speaker of the House of Representative, Femi Gbajabiamila, who will publicly endorse this project.”
“For the first time in the history of the country, we will be deploying sign language interpreters in the two Houses of the National Assembly with salary payment for three years”, he went further to say.
Also speaking at the event, the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, James Lalu, expressed optimism that the interventions announced by Epelle would promote inclusion.
“I want to believe completely that the solution to proper disability inclusion in Nigeria is proper participation in the electoral process. The just concluded Continuous Voter Registration that will enable us get our voters card has now forced our politicians to start seeking attention from the PWDs in Nigeria.
“I can only understand very clearly that over some years, when we were in a political party, we tried everything possible to make sure that these parties included the PWDs in their administrative structure, campaign activities and everything about the party but we have not been able to achieve that. But I can tell you today that because of the activities of INEC, it has forced political parties to carry us along in their campaigns knowing fully well that we have a lot of PWDs with their voters cards”, Lalu said.