Malam Athairu Madami, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Kwara, has assured Persons Living With Disabilities (PLWDs) of their safety and security during the coming elections.
Madami gave the assurance on Wednesday while speaking at a sensitisation forum for Persons Living With Disabilities in Ilorin ahead of the 2019 elections in the state.
He urged the disabled persons in the state to turn up in their numbers to cast their votes at the polling units.
“I want you to have the highest number of PLWDs to vote in the country. Your turnout in 2015 was low; I urge you to mobilise your members to vote this time around.
“INEC has a lot of concern and programmes for the people living with disabilities; the commission has created a desk in the Department of Voter Education for PLWDs.
“The commission interfaces and organises workshops and seminars for the mobilisation of youths, women, civil society organisations and persons living with disabilities,’’ he said.
The commissioner urged the staff of INEC to be courteous with the PLWDs and allow them to vote when they arrive the polling centres.
Madami told the disabled persons that there were many constitutional and legal frameworks that protected them in the country.
“Notwithstanding the existing legal framework, the physically challenged situation today is different from what is guaranteed by the Constitution and the various protocols and conventions.
“The physically challenged are discriminated against on the basis of disabilities and are confronted with the challenges of participation and access to opportunities, resources and governance.
“This has created a wide gap between able-bodied and people living with disabilities in social, educational, economic and political spheres, ‘’ Madami said.
He called on the people with disability to collect their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) to enable them exercise their civic duty on Election Day.
“The PVC is your weapon, you should use it to elect leaders that will be sympathetic to your conditions, ‘’ Madami said.
The Secretary of Visually Impaired in Kwara, Mr Hakeem Lawal, commended INEC for the interactive session with the PWLDs and assured the commissioner that disabled persons would exercise their franchise during the elections.
He appealed to PLWDs in the state not to sell their PVCs for any amount or trade it away, saying that their PVCs are their weapon to elect leaders of their choice.
Lawal called on INEC to provide Brail machines for visually impaired persons at voting centers and also ensure that they have adequate privacy when casting their votes. (NAN)