By Kemi Yesufu
The National Coordinator of Journalists For Disability Inclusion (J4DI), Mr. Emmanuel Ogbeche has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide special centres for Persons With Disability.
Speaking at the inauguration of members of J4DI, held in Abuja on Wednesday, Ogbeche, said Persons With Disabilty have come out in their thousands to register to obtain their Permanent Voters Card but have to struggle to complete the process especially with the recent upsurge in the number of people at designated registration centres.
He said: “There is a need for special centers or designated slots within these centres in existence exclusively for persons with disability. Because when you’re talking about 2023, we want inclusion. We are talking about 67,000 plus (Persons With Disabilitiy) just registered recently.
“If you look at the INEC data, there is the possibility that among Persons With Disability, there individuals that have not been able to register. So, we are making an appeal to INEC to consider setting up special exclusive centres for Persons With Disability”.
Founder of The Albino Foundation (TAF), a major partner of J4DI, Mr. Jake Epelle, stressed the need for the media to prioritise the reportage of issues affecting Persons With Disability.
He said: “It’s a journey we have all started, a new page that has just been opened by your becoming the first entity involved in this all important issue of the inclusion of Persons With Disability.
“We are glad that this dream has become reality. But a lot still needs to be done. The work has just began. Please let us leverage on the connections we have and the access we have created. A lot more has to be done to project the work J4DI does”.
Also speaking at the event , National President of the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs. Ladi Bala, stated the preparedness of her association to focus on issues affecting Persons With Disability.
She averred that an egalitarian society must have policies and laws which protect the rights of Persons With Disability and other minority groups.
She said: “This (J4DI) is the way to go. Nigeria belongs to all of us. When we talk about inclusion, when you talk about development and then a particular demographic unit of the society is being pushed away, their rights are not being recognized, it is a sad narrative”.
Bala urged members of J4DI to continue to champion the mainstreaming matters concerning Persons With Disability.
“I believe that God has saddled journalists with the responsibility of changing the mind set of people, of mobilizing people for a noble cause. We are in the middle because we are neither here nor there. What we do is to galvanize the whole society for a common cause”, she said.