The EU and Albino Foundation (TAF), have reiterated their partnership to promote greater inclusion of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in the electoral process ahead of the 2023 general elections.
They made the commitment when Ms Samuela Isopi, the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, visited The Albino Foundation office in Abuja.
Isopi said that her visit was to demonstrate EU’s support to the Albino Foundation and commitment to continue to work together for greater inclusion in Nigeria.
According to her, Human Rights and inclusivity are something which are very much part of the DNA of the EU.
“This is very much part of the values on which the EU is founded and this is why the promotion of these values is also something which is always at the centre of what we do in our partner countries.
“What we do is always something that is at the centre of our actions and policies, we are very happy and also very lucky here in Nigeria to have the Albino Foundation’ all of you as our allies in this long journey, our role is actually to support you.
“I really want to thank you and congratulate you for the impressive achievements made possible by your commitment, we are very proud to partner and to continue to work with you to promote greater inclusion in the electoral process,’’ she said.
Isopi said greater inclusion of persons with disabilities was one of the key recommendations of the EU Election Observation Mission after monitoring the elections in 2019.
She said part of the recommendations indicated that political parties should be legally required to have policies on the political participation of persons with disabilities.
Isopi said this includes provision of access to poling units, provision of devices, and information in all formats among others.
She said the right of persons with disabilities was one of the seven priorities defined in EU’s new human rights and democracy country strategy for Nigeria.
The EU official said this was because EU knows how important it was not to leave anyone behind, adding that the campaigns were here, so the union would work with Albino Foundation to make a difference in the Electoral process.
The Chief Executive Officer, Albino Foundation, Jake Epelle commended EU for their support in championing the cause of persons with disabilities in Nigeria.
According to Epelle, political campaigns will commence on Sept. 28, so they are using this opportunity to re-emphasize their stand that the campaign should be inclusive of what candidates will do for the community of persons with disability.
“We want to use this opportunity to also call on the community of persons with disability that if you haven’t collected your voters card, please do well to go to a designated point and collect your PVC.
“Remember that with your votes, you have the power in your hands to change the landscape of inclusivity in Nigeria, and any political party that ignores us will do that at their own peril.
“This is because we have the number and we can change and determine the cause of the political landscape in the country come 2022.
“The EU has empowered us and has given us whatever we need to ensure that the community of persons with disability will participate not only for them to vote, but for them to be voted for,’’ he said.
Epelle commended the ambassador for supporting the Foundation and the EU for giving it grant as investment in disability community in the political space as well as the gift of a vehicle to support its works.
James Lalu, the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons With Disabilities (NCPWD), commended EU for supporting the disability community in Nigeria.
Lalu, represented by Soji Adewale, Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, NCPWD, said the commission was established with the sole aim of inclusion of persons with disabilities in all facets of life.
“The commission is partnering with several organisations including the Albino Foundation to promote a world without discrimination, especially for persons with disabilities.
“The commission is more than willing to collaborate with more MDAs, international development partners and others to guarantee the rights of persons with disabilities.’’