Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it would soon release the timetable for stakeholders’ engagement for Permanent Voter Card Collection and other activities ahead of the November 16th governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States.
Chairman of the Commission’s Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Festus Okoye hinted at this at the weekend during the opening of a two-day National Strategy Meeting on Capturing Disaggregated Data of Persons with Disabilities (PWDS), organised with the support of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in Abuja.
The IVEC Chairman said, “In the next few days, the Commission will announce the timetable for stakeholders’ engagement for PVC collection and other activities relating to the states where we are going to have standalone governorship elections and the issue of this data collection will be one of the big issues in relation to whether we conduct good elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States”.
But, Chairman of the Commission’s Outreach and Partnership Committee (OPC), Dr. Adekunle Ogunmola, said the meeting was a needed “platform for knowledge and experience sharing that will ultimately lead to useful input and far-reaching recommeºndations on the best methodology and scientific approach to explore for the capturing of disaggregated data of PWDs to deepen their participation in the electoral process”.
Continuing, he said, “According to the world report on disability published in 2011, about 25 million Nigerians have at least one disability. However, with the population figure of Nigeria being put at over 200 million based on the latest United Nations estimates, naturally, there will be an upward swing in the population figure of PWDs in the country.
“Granted the huge population, PWDs are too important a demographic group to be ignored in planning in all spheres of human endeavor, including the processes of election.”
Adekunkle explained that in order to promote PWD participation in the electoral process, the Commission had transcribed the information and voter education materials into braille; designed special posters specifically to aid persons with hearing impairment to understand the voting procedure in writing and graphics.
He also informed that the commission had procured magnifying glasses to assist the visually impaired as well as albinos in identifying the ballots papers, while at the same time introduced Braille Ballot Guides to enable the visually impaired cast their votes independently, among other interventions.
“Going forward, our interventions and approaches to PWDs’ mainstreaming issues in the electoral process need to be empirically guided and hinged on processed information generated from the field to enable proper monitoring and evaluation of performances to achieve optimal results,” he said.
He however gave assurances of the Commission’s commitment to promoting PWD inclusion in the electoral process, saying, “The Commission is fully committed to consolidate its various interventions geared towards promoting the PWDs’ participation in the electoral process using scientific approach.
“It is fully primed to collaborate with stakeholders to explore ways of capturing disaggregated data of PWDs and utilizing the empirical findings and recommendations of such studies to facilitate access and participation of the PWDs”.
Meanwhile, the PDP will on Monday commence the screening of the governorship aspirants for the Kogi and Bayelsa States gubernatorial election slated for November 16th.
Already, the party has constituted two screening panels headed by the governor of Oyo State, Seyi Adebayo for Kogi and Darius Ishaku of Taraba State for Bayelsa.
The two panels, according to sources, will sit simultaneously on Monday at the PDP Legacy House in Maitama, Abuja, for the Kogi exercise and PDP National secretariat for the Bayelsa aspirants.
In addition, the party has also set up an appeal committee headed by the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe to attend to those who feel dissatisfied with the screening on Monday.