On Saturday, 18th February 2023, TAF Africa stated that the NGO deployed three hundred and forty (340) observers in polling units with registered persons with disabilities (PWD) across the twenty-eight states conducting the gubernatorial and state assembly elections.
This was disclosed during the Mid-day report on the situational report on the participation of PWDs in the gubernatorial and state house of assembly election in in TAF Situation Room in Abuja on 18th March, 2023.
Through the persons with disabilities election hub, Prof. Vincent Anigbogu, Chairman, Board of Trustee, TAF Africa, explained that the deployment enabled TAF Africa to verify how assistive tools were deployed to the polling unit with registered disabilities, in line with the provisions of the electoral act.
Prof. Vincent Anigbogu said “TAF Africa also deployed an election observer app and tools that will be used to provide real-time information for the hub on the participation of Persons with disabilities.
“TAF Africa’s field observation revealed critical challenges in the commencement of polls ranging from the inadequate deployment of assistive tools and other election materials to violence in polling units.
TAF Africa’ s persons with disabilities election hub mid-day findings include:
1. SHORTAGE OF ELECTION MATERIALS: TAF Africa received reports of a shortage in the deployment of election materials in Nassarawa state, particularly in PU 121, 009, NAG IS, PU 139 AN GWA Soja Masaka, PU 001 Area 1 Masaka PU 141 Area 1, all in Nasarawa State.
2. PROMPT ARRIVAL OF INEC OFFICIALS AND COMMENCEMENT OF POLLS: In the
polling units observed, TAF Africa observers noted the early arrival of INEC officials at the polling unit. Our findings reveal that out of the two hundred and twenty-eight polling units observed, 91percent of them recorded early arrival of INEC officials 68% of voting commencement.
3. ACCESS TO POLLING UNITS AND PRIORITY VOTING: On accessibility, TAF Africa observers reported the accessibility of the polling units at 94% of the polling units observed, while priority voting was observed in 76% of the polling units.
In view of the emerging issues, TAF Africa’s persons with disabilities election hub makes the following preliminary recommendations.
1. The Independent National Electoral Commission should investigate the reason for the inadequate deployment of assistive tools to polling units with registered persons with disabilities, which can disenfranchise them.
2. The Independent National Electoral Commission should ensure prompt response to the issues raised at the polls, particularly the shortage of election materials in some polling units.
3. Security agencies are reminded of their primary responsibilities to the citizens of Nigeria. We expect security agencies to be present at the polls, and ensure the safety of everyone with competence, professionalism, and neutrality, especially the violent-prone ones.
TAF Africa commends the community of persons with disabilities for their show of strength and commitment toward this election, despite the unfavorable conditions. We also call on persons with disabilities who have not voted to go to their registered polling unit to exercise their civic rights in a peaceful and orderly way.
TAF Africa will continue to observe the conduct of the gubernatorial and state assembly elections as it affects the participation of persons with disabilities. Our observers will remain at the polls until voting is completed and votes are counted.