The Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), Gender and Election Watch (GEW) has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make more accessible polling units for Persons With Disability as well as pregnant women,nursing mothers in the 2023 elections.
In a statement by the Executive Director, Mufiliat Fijabi, on Sunday, the group noted that, at the just concluded Osun election, some polling units were not accessible to persons with disability, and aged women who came out to cast their vote.
Fijabi stated that, although, priority was given to these category of person in some polling units, while others did not.
She said, “The conduct of the election with the implementation of the INEC guidelines on priority voting was observed in several polling units. Aged people, pregnant women, nursing mothers and Persons with Disabilities were given priority attention to cast their votes.
“However, at PU 001 Ward 3, Iwo LGA, there was no priority voting for pregnant and nursing mothers. Additionally, at Unit 3 Ward 1, Isaleoba Iwo LGA, there was no priority queue for the aged, PWDs, nursing mothers and pregnant women.
“Similarly, at PU 006 Ward 08, Osogbo with registered voters of 1,861, there was priority voting for PWDs, but the polling unit was not easily accessible. In addition, at Ward 2 unit 5, Iwo LGA, PWDs were attended to first before other voters. Nonetheless, some of these polling units were not accessible to the PWDs.”
Speaking on gender sensitivity, Fijabi commended INEC on the selection of adhoc staff for the election, noting the inclusion of Person with Disability.
“NWTF GEW observed that the Independent National Electoral Commission had almost equal representation of young women and men as ad hoc staff. Out of the 267 ad hoc staff sighted at the polling units where observation took place, it was observed that 138 were males while 129 were females representing 52 per cent males and 48 per cent females.
“Nevertheless, NWTF GEW spotted only one PWD who was also an ad hoc Staff at Unit 004 Ward 05, Ejigbo LGA. We hereby recommend that INEC continues to sustain its inclusivity drive to reflect its policy on inclusion.”
The Executive Director commnded INEC on the over all conduct of the Osun state gubernatorial election, charging it to sustain and build on the gains achieved as well as continue the sensitization to citizens on the need to exercise their civic duties to enhance government performance.
Fijabi noted that votes buying for Osun election was more discreet than the brazen display at the Ekiti polls, tasking the anti graft agencies,EFCC to go the extra mile in prosecuting perpetrators of voters inducement and not stop at arrest only.
However, she commended the women young and aged and also PWD for turning out enmasse to vote, describing this as a ‘remarkable’ participation at the election.