2023 General Elections: LASG, INEC open schedules for massive capturing of physically challenged

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…Calls out PWD to seize opportunity for capturing, revalidation

…Over 10m already captured in INEC’s record across Nigeria

By Moses Adeniyi

The Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) has joined the bid of Lagos State Government (LASG) to give ample inclusion for Persons With Disabilities (PWD) to participate meaningfully in electoral process as the 2023 General Elections draw close.

The Lagos State Government believes such political inclusion was essential to ensure physically challenged persons are integrated significantly in the affairs of governing the State.

The State Government through its Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA) disclosed on Friday its arrangements and collaboration with INEC which has culminated into the scheduling of designated centres to ensure physically challenged persons are given the opportunity of a two-day window in the State for registration and revalidation in INEC voters’ database.

The General Manager, Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA), Mr. Oluwadamilare Ogundairo, at a press briefing on Friday, at the State Capital, Ikeja, to intimate PWDs about the process, disclosed that the centres scheduled for the two-day exercise slated for Monday, 25th, and Tuesday, 26th, July, 2022, have been strategically chosen across the five divisions of the State.

The location of the centres, according to him, include: Ikorodu Central Local Government, Ikorodu; Ability and Disability Economic Empowerment Initiative Centre, Badagry; Old Secretariat, Ikeja; Polling Unit Centre, Lagos Island; Sport Recreation Centre, Epe; Idi-araba, Idi-araba Correctional Centre (Special Centre), Idi-araba; Teslim Balogun National Stadium, Surulere; Oko-Baba Centre, Ebutemeta, Oyingbo.

He mentioned the special centres are fortified with extra facilities to capture PWDs who may not be able to have their registration done with the normal biometric process.

According to him, the process was essential for mobilisation and proper inclusion of PWDs in the electoral process.

He said LASODA has been working closely with INEC to make registration and revalidatiom procedure flexible to accommodate PWDs.

According to him, the proactive response of the engagement with INEC bore the response to make the special arrangement for same across the scheduled centres.

He said: “Another critical aspect is the understanding of the fact that lack of political participation could also endear the community of PWD to exclusion, discrimination and poverty also.”

This, he said, underscores why the Government took it essential “to create special centres across the State for persons with disabilities to get registered, revalidate their details in the INEC voters database.”

According to him, the office has been engaging seriously with INEC “to ensure the electoral process in Nigeria is inclusive and conducive for people with disabilities.”

Mentioning that all logistics and INEC officials are already set on ground to commence the process, he called on all PWDs to take advantage of the window to get enrolled, which according to him, would avail them participation in the electoral process towards the forth coming General Elections.

According to him, the challenges of poverty among PWDs which records have shown 80percent of chronic cases of poverty are people with disabilities, are largely borne not by the DNA of these categories of persons but because of social exclusion.

“The world must move on to understand the fact that the challenges with People with Disabilities, is not disability itself, but the failure of society to provide adequately for them to function effectively and productively,” he said.

He noted that as a critical part of inclusion, lack of political participation can worsen poverty, and other challenges of PWDs.

He mentioned that given the fact that 15 to 20 percent of the population of every society entails PWD, if the goal of eradicating poverty must be achieved, critical attention must be given to persons under this category.

INEC representative, the Head, Voters Registry, Information Communication Technology, INEC, Muyiwa Yusuf, said the two-day schedule was set aside at the instance of a request from LASODA.

He noted the commission has put into consideration several classes of PWDs on its registration portal, which he said, was “distinct” for elaborate capturing and inclusion.

He disclosed that as at Monday, 18, July 2022, the completed registration of PWDs into the INEC database across the Country had hit over 10million (10,139,247).

He said the Commission is willing to do more registration, calling on PWDs to maximise the two day window opportunity to optimise the benefits “to achieve the essence of the exercise.”

He lamented the deficts in unclaimed permanent voters card (PVC).

According to him, of the 6,722,394 persons registered in Lagos, over a million persons enrolled for the registration have not yet collected their PVCs as at the time of filing this report on Friday.

He warned Nigerians to avoid multiple registration which could disqualify them from exercising their franchise.

According to him, issues of damaged and card loss, change of polling units, among other changes, could be handled through revalidation rather than fresh enrollment, which would, according to him, amount to multiple registration.

The Senior Special Assisant to the Lagos State Governor on Persons with Disability, Adenike Oyetunde, called on PWDs to take optimum advantage of the short time for the registration.