In order to ensure that persons with albinism including persons with disabilities participate actively in the electoral and political processes in Nigeria, the European Union is supporting the foundation to realize this laudable objective. The project, which is a three-year intervention project will be implemented in FCT, Ekiti and Osun states.
The proposed intervention will directly contribute to building the capacities of the primary and secondary stakeholders in the electoral and political system to fulfil their new obligations towards equal access to political and electoral processes for persons with disabilities. It will also support DPOs and selected CSOs to increase their ability to support persons with disabilities to participate more equally in the election process.
With the planned National elections in early 2019, it is pertinent to address these barriers people with disabilities face in exercising their right to political participation. Since 1999, various legislative and policy commitments have been made by the Government of Nigeria about including Persons with Disabilities into society in more concrete ways. But nothing has been done to show that they are really working towards including persons with disabilities during the electoral and political processes.
To achieve this ultimate change, the foundation, PWDs, Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs), and allies are willing to change the current situation. This will involve identifying the barriers to inclusion in the pre, during and post-election phases, developing solution to removing these barriers, and conducting advocacy, engagement and sensitization towards political actors on accessibility of elections and political systems. Through these efforts, election and civic actors and other organizations involved in the political and electoral process will gradually mainstream disability into their programming and in doing so, strengthen the democratic and political process in Nigeria.
It is believed that change will be driven by the PWDs and the DPOs themselves in their interactions with communities and stakeholders around them. The DPOs will be empowered to carry out state and local level civic education campaigns targeting persons with disabilities and the community with the simple message that PWDs have the right to vote and, are able to vote and can stand for elections. Local level and low-cost solutions will be developed to ensure PWDs are mobilized to access voter registration pre-election and voting units during the election. Having disabled candidates stand for elections, and providing them adequate accessible training, will also be a powerful tool for change – a strategy this project will support.
Significant focus will be placed on the election actors (INEC, International NGOs, local civil society actors) whose networks extend throughout the states, thus achieving scale and reach PWDs particularly in the rural areas. The aim here is to secure their commitment to modify their election process and programming to include persons with disabilities such as capacity-building, sensitization and developing solutions to removing barriers in the pre-and during election periods (e.g. registration, accessible voting stations). Importantly, the action will seek to ensure that the monitoring team for the election includes a PWD and are sensitized on disability.
It is the belief of the foundation that when this project is completed, persons with disabilities in the states and FCT will be able to actively be involved in the democratic process that will enable them vie for any political and elective positions as well as the ability to come out and vote without any barriers.