The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday disclosed plans to ease participation of People With Disabilities ( PWDs) in the 2019 general elections.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Ogun, Prof. Abdulganiyu Raji, made the disclosure at a sensitisation forum organised by the commission for PWDs in the state.
Raji said that the forum was meant to inspire the PWDs to action regarding their civic duties and to mobilise them toward greater participation in the forthcoming polls.
According to the REC, Nigeria has about 18 million PWDs, constituting about 10 per cent of the entire population.
He described the population as significant, adding that it would impact on the outcome of the election.
“Consequently, the commission has made preparations to ensure your active participation in the 2019 polls as one of the critical stakeholders,” he said.
He explained that INEC would accord the group priority at each of the polling units.
Raji added that blind and incapacitated persons would be allowed to be accompanied into the voting points for assistance to cast their votes.
The REC explained that mobile aids would be provided for people with mobility problems while braille ballot papers and magnifying glasses would be deployed for albinos and the visually impaired.
He added that a form, EC40H, had been specially designed to collect information about types of disabilities and number of PWDs in each polling unit for preparations towards future elections.
”I believe that you will find this sensitisation forum useful and it will serve as a re- assurance that INEC has made adequate preparations for you people to enhance your participation in the 2019 polls,” he said.
The Chairman of the Ogun chapter of the Joint National Association of People With Special Needs, Mohammed Olalekan, who spoke with newsmen after the programme, commended INEC for organizing the forum.
He said that the forum had instilled a sense of belonging in his members and encouraged them.
Olalekan gave an assurance that the association would partner with INEC by mobilising its members to collect their Permanent Voters’ Cards and turn out in large numbers during the polls.