The Albino Foundation has called on journalists and media houses to amplify their voices in issues of disability inclusion in political participation in Nigeria.
The CEO/Founder, The Albino Foundation (TAF), Jake Epelle stated this in Abuja during a workshop organized to build capacity on inclusive media reportage for the 2023 elections. The roundtable was tagged “Disability-inclusive reporting for journalists in the electoral process”.
In his address, Mr. Jake Epelle appealed to the media to focus their reportage on disability participation in the coming general election. He said “issues of persons with disabilities have not been properly reported. Some media houses have not join the crusade to make reports of persons with disabilities headlines.
“We want to see that issues about persons with disabilities will continue to be in the news, so that we can get policy makers, government agencies, international partners to be aware of the main challenges we in TAF are trying to solve.”
Jake explained that TAF during the election will establish election monitoring centre in the Federal Capital Territory to serve as situation room for disability political inclusion for the election.
Also, the Foundation has developed disability election monitoring dashboard and Election Observers/Eye Witness Report App for persons with disabilities during the elections. The Dashboard and App will be live-feed platforms to report, monitor and analyse the election and electoral process for persons with disabilities.
The dashboard and app are disability friendly, as provision is made for easy screen readers for the blind.
The Dashboard and App as first of its kind in Africa electoral process will assist persons with disabilities to report in real-time the inclusivity of the election and its processes.
In his remarks, the National President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Chris Isiguzo applauded TAF for the laudable innovations of the Election Disability Dashboard and App, and the various sensitizations for the elections, especially training journalist for inclusive reporting.
He explained that the media must ensure the goal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to conduct free, credible and verifiable election is achieved.
Comrade Isiguzo stated that the various stakeholders; the INEC, Police and journalists must collaborate to ensure that the electoral process meets the needs and aspirations of every Nigerian.
The keynote speaker, Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director, International Press Centre (IPC) advised that reporting issues of persons with disabilities is a fundamental criteria to making the electoral process inclusive.
He explained that, although there is little reportage for persons with disabilities in both print and online, the media industries in Nigeria can do more by seeing persons with disabilities as integral parts of the society.
He said “who are persons with disabilities? They are lawyers, doctotors, CEOs, heads of federal and state parastatals, tailors, mothers, fathers, our sons and daughters. They are people that live everyday life. They are persons with rights and obligations. They are persons that have rights to vote and be voted for.”
Lanre Arogundade added “persons with disabilities can participate in discusses on every issues of the society with indebt knowledge and expertise, so let’s involve them in normal national discuss and not only on issues of persons with disabilities”
The statistics of persons with disabilities for the 2023 election was given by the Program Manager, The Albino Foundation, Ndifreke Ferinand. The data shared was based on the statistics by the INEC and TAF;
85,362 persons with disabilities are registered to vote in Nigeria, with Lagos State having the highest, followed by Kaduna and Sokoto States. This number is based on the current registration by INEC. However, there are thousands of persons with disabilities registered before the current process that were not captured as persons with disabilities.
32,890 polling centres are designated for persons with disabilities in the country with all necessary aid to ensure inclusivity provided.
Over 700 individuls are trained by TAF as observers for persons with disabilities during the elections.
36 different persons with disabilities candidates are contesting for various positions in the elections.
Over five thousands persons with disabilities and internally displaced persons have been sensitized and trained on how to participate fully in the electoral system.
The Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, TAF, Edikan Samuel demonstrated the usage and interface of the Dashboard and Observers/Eye Witness App. He urged every Nigerian to utilize the platform by updating information during the election on the App and Dashboard.