People with Disabilities (PWDs) in Nigeria have commended the Lagos State Government for enacting an enabling law making it compulsory for building to carry facilities for them.
This is coming even as they lamented that they are not taken into consideration in the planning of elections.
Speaking during a courtesy visit of delegation of Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) to the corporate head office of The Sun Publishing Limited in Lagos, yesterday, Project Director, Mr. Kola Ogunbiyi, said Lagos State has done well by ensuring public buildings have facilities that would aid the movement and comfort of people with disabilities.
He frowned at lack of easy access for people with disabilities to some public places, like pedestrian bridges, hospitals, schools and offices, while stressing the need for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to train its officials on equal voting access for persons with disabilities.
“INEC should review the location of polling units to ensure easy access for PWDs and standardise its collection of our data in pre-election and election-day process. This will enable them plan for the participation of voters with different forms of disabilities.
INEC should also make deliberate commitment to ensure we have unhindered access to information through the use of sign language interpreters, and provision of materials in Braille.”
Ogunbiyi urged the federal and state governments to also enact laws that would protect PWDs from discrimination and harmful practices.
On how to ensure people with disabilities participate in electoral process, he said: “The National Assembly should urgently strengthen Section 56(2) of the 2010 Electoral Act by making the provision of Braille and sign language interpreters mandatory, as opposed to leaving it to the discretion of INEC, as the case is currently. Also, the National Assembly should harmonise the disability bill to enable the president assent to it. This is to minimise the use of charity-based approach by INEC in addressing disability issues in Nigeria.”
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He commended The Sun for highlighting disability issues in their reports and appealed to the management not to relent, as their efforts would further raise the consciousness of stakeholders to provide access to persons with disabilities and aid their participations at the polls. Earlier, Editor, Daily Sun, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh, commended the CCD delegates for efforts being made to cater for the needs of people with disabilities.