The European Union (EU) says it is supporting the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in its plans to get people with disabilities, women and the youth to fully participate in the 2019 general elections.
EU disclosed this at a media roundtable briefing on Thursday at the European Embassy in Abuja, after a closed-door meeting of the head of delegates of the EU, Ketil Karlsen, with the INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, and founder of The Albino Foundation, Jake Epelle.
Mr Karlsen said the meeting discussed how to get people with disabilities more involved in the electoral process.
”Today we are here to discuss the importance of the participation of people with disabilities, women and youth to ensure these people have better access to voting,” Mr Karlsen said.
”The EU has been supporting INEC for a very long time, it is not something we started doing just ahead of the elections. So as a matter of fact, we have been providing institutional support and technical support for a very long time.
”Let me say the support from the EU does not start here, because since 1999 we have provided more than one million euros to support the democratic processes in Nigeria.
”And we are very thankful to INEC and our other partners in Nigeria. We would all like to see a continued consolidation of democracy through free and fair elections in 2019,” he added.
Mr Yakubu said INEC would ensure inclusiveness in the electoral process for women, youth and people with disabilities, adding that NEC has been Persons Living with Disabilities (PWD)-friendly.
It would be recalled that directors at INEC adopted the draft Framework on Access and Participation of Persons Living with Disabilities ahead 2019 General Elections.
”INEC has been PWD-friendly. Remember in the Anambra elections, for the first time in the history of elections in Nigeria we introduced the magnifying glasses for those with visual impairment,” Mr Yakubu said.
“In the Osun governorship election, we introduced textile balloting, meaning that those with visual impairment again were able to vote and were assisted.”
”We have said it several times, if you look at the voter registration that we have, it is very robust and in the election that we have conducted we have never had any issues with an illegible person in the register. And very recently we have also displayed the entire national register of voters in all 119,917 polling units nationwide for citizens to help us clean up the register.
”Another thing is that we have been collating claims and objections of citizens. On Tuesday next week, we are inviting the resident electoral commissioners to further discuss the outcome of the display of the voter’s register. And after we have met, we will make whatever findings we have known to the public,” he added.