From Ayodele Samuel, Lagos.
The People living with disabilities in the South West have appealed to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)and other relevant organs of government not to disenfranchise them from the forthcoming general elections.
A cross section of people with disabilities who spoke at an election awareness programme organized by a Non Governmental Organization, the Hope for Family Development Initiative (HFDI) in collaboration with INEC urged the electoral body not to discriminate between them and those without disability during the polls.
At the awareness programme held in Ile-Ife for the people of Ife Central, Iife South, Ife North and Ife South Local Government Areas of the state, the disabled people who trouped out in their large numbers said INEC should give special consideration to them during elections.
The Chairman of the Osun state Chapter of Association of People with Disabilities, Mr Onitiju while speaking urged INEC to provide opportunities for the blind and lame persons to exercise their franchise during the elections.
He said many of his members have been denied the right to vote during previous elections through frustration by politicians and victimization by the security agents at the polling centres.
He however called for special consideration for people with disabilities during election, saying those with disabilities should be the first to be attended to by the electoral officers during elections in order for them not to suffer at polling centres.
Onitiju also appealed to security agents to treat disabled people with passion during elections, saying “previous experience has shown that our security personnel have no respect for our people. It is important that we are treated with care because our people are suffering from different disabilities.”
In his remarks, the Director, HFDI, Mr Stephen Aremu who sensitized the people with disabilities on the need to troop out in their large number to vote for candidates of their choice during the forthcoming elections, urged the persons with disabilities in the state to endeavour to collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) before the deadline given by INEC.