KOGI, Nigeria – The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Wednesday disclosed that 81 persons with disabilities were among ad hoc staff it had recruited for the November 16 governorship election in Kogi State.
Alhaji Ahmed Biambo, Director, Voter Education and Publicity, INEC office, Lokoja, disclosed on the sideline of a one-day sensitization forum organised by the commission for persons living with disabilities.
Biambo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the 81 physically challenged persons were recruited to work as Presiding Officers and Assistant Presiding Officers.
He said that the recruited ad-hoc staff will be deployed to polling units across the 21 local government areas of the state.
The official, however, said that the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) had ordered that they be posted to non-volatile areas , saying that they will be trained on the use of braille ballot guide among others.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the state chapter of the Joint National Association of Persons Living with Disabilities (JONAPWD), Mr Solomon Yahaya, confirmed the recruitment of his members as ad hoc staff by INEC.
He thanked the commission for the inclusion of physically challenged people in the electoral process, saying that it has given them a sense of belonging.
Yahaya, charged members of the association to come out on election day to vote for a candidate of their choice and advised those recruited as ad hoc staff to give a good account of themselves.
Earlier, while declaring the forum open, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. James Apam, said that the commission was determined to ensure that all persons living with disabilities exercise their franchise on election day.
Apam, said that persons with disabilities will be given access to polling unit unhindered saying that they will also be accorded priority to vote first before others.
The REC, further explained that security agents had been properly briefed on how to treat person with disabilities on election day, urging all of them to come out and vote.
The Deputy Director, Civil Society Organisations Division at the INEC headquarters, Mrs Dorothy Bello, said that the forum was organised to intimate members of JONAPWD on the preparations towards ensuring a free, fair and credible election.
Bello, said that the INEC had taken steps to make the election all-inclusive by organising roundtable meetings to mainstream persons living with disabilities in the political party structures, activities and leadership positions.
According to her, INEC has also procured and deployed magnifying glasses to aid the albinos in making informed choices during voting.
She also stated that the visually impaired/blind among them will be given transcribed voter education materials in braille to further enhance their participation in the election.