Press statement

Press Statement: Bayelsa and Kogi States Governorship Elections and Voters with Disabilities

As eligible voters in Bayelsa and Kogi States gear up towards the states Governorship elections scheduled to hold on Saturday, November 16, 2019, the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) is calling on residence of these States to support Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) participation and ensure Equal Voting Access for all. CCD is deploying observers in all the Senatorial district of the states.

Recognizing that people with disabilities are generally known to be disadvantaged in the society, and consequently suffer many deprivations and denial of their rights, especially during elections.

Appreciating that voting in elections has been recognized as one of the rights of citizens with disabilities that is often violated and ignored. The plight of Persons with Disabilities is further compounded by societal attitude, which often entails looking down on persons with disabilities even on election days. For this reason, many citizens with disabilities suffer the violation of their rights and disenfranchisement in silence.

Aware that the hallmark of democracy is that people govern themselves through elected representatives who they can subsequently return, remove or reject. Elections provide the only means of succession in a democracy.

Bearing in mind that a Credible, Free and Fair elections to a person with disabilities means that election is conducted in an atmosphere free from all forms of barrier to polling units, communication, participation and negative attitude of adhoc staff of INEC, political parties, electorates, and security agents.

Concerned that measures adopted in previous elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have not been satisfactory to Persons with Disabilities; issues like negative attitude of INEC’s adhoc staffs to citizens with disabilities, denial of priority voting to voters with disabilities, absence of Sign Language Interpreters for the deaf at polling units, absence of Braille Materials for the blind, inaccessible polling units with lots of mobility barriers have continued to hinder the effective participation of Persons with Disabilities during elections in the country.

Appreciating the President Mohammadu Buhari for signing into law the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act early this year, which made robust provisions for the participation of persons with disabilities in the socio-economic activities of the country on an equal bases with other.

Appreciating that INEC is under the obligation to implement the disability Act and INEC policy for the participation of persons with disabilities in elections, which provides rights to priority voting, none discrimination, access to public building used by INEC for the conduct of election amongst others.

We call on INEC to implement the Disability Act by ensuring that all barriers that hinder persons with disabilities from participating in elections are removed.

Eligible voters with disabilities to go out en masse to cast their votes to the candidate of their choice.

INEC to guide election security agencies on election day to ensure voters go to the poll peacefully, as election day violence may hinder eligible voters with disabilities from participating in the elections

On election day Security agencies to respect and protect the rights of persons with disabilities, in particular deaf voters in the two states. Reports from previous elections show that deaf voters were exposed to violence and hostility from security agents and other citizens on election day.

The goal of this campaign is to ensure that eligible female and male persons with disabilities gain Equal Voting Access during Elections in Nigeria. The core objectives for this campaign include –

  • Examining militating and facilitating factors on persons with disabilities participation in elections.
  • Sensitizing stakeholders on Equal Voting Access for Persons with Disabilities during Elections; and
  • Mobilizing Persons with Disabilities Participation in Elections.

The MEDIA to support persons with disabilities by ensuring that election day report captures the experience of persons with disabilities during election.

The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) is premier disability rights organization of, and for persons with disabilities that works to promote independent living, participation and inclusion of citizens with disabilities in democratic governance. CCD is accredited by INEC to observe 2019 Bayelsa and Kogi States governorship elections.

David O. Anyaele
Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD)

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