By Chibuike Utaka
Over 25 million Nigerians are with one form of disability or the other. Many of them are young men and women across the country. Youths under the age of 35 years make up about 40% of the 93.4 million registered eligible voters in Nigeria. It is for this reason that Comfort Ekwo Able Minds Initiative (CEAMI), led the campaign #WeCare, targeting the community of people with disabilities (PWDs) and young voters across the FCT, Abuja.
Campaign #WeCare which was made possible by a grant from the GoVote Project of the Co-Creation Hub (CCHub) is a 3 months project. It aims at increasing the participation of young people in the electoral process by ensuring that every registered eligible young person collects the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and proceeds to vote on the election day.
To kick off this project, CEAMI organized a town hall meeting at Abuja on January 20th, 2023 to encourage youths and people with disabilities to take advantage of the PVC collection exercise to get ready for the elections. A total of 68 participants attended the town hall meeting event to ask questions about the process of PVC collection and voting especially for people with disabilities. Among the participants were selected representatives of all the clusters of the people with disabilities in the FCT, Abuja. They included, the blind, deaf, physically challenged, amputees, speech impaired, and other relevant stakeholders.
The Co-convener of the Civil Society Situation Room, Mr. James Okpe took several questions from participants about the electoral process and how the people with disabilities could take part in the elections. Many questions were asked by the deaf community about communicating with the electoral officials during PVC collection and the elections.
For the Executive Director of CEAMI, Ms. Comfort Ekwo, the town hall meeting was the first step in mobilizing the youths and community of people with disabilities in FCT for PVC collection and voting in the elections. She stated that volunteers working with the organization would support all the people with disabilities who were yet to collect their PVCs to collect them in readiness for voting. She mentioned that with support from CCHub, CEAMI had produced 5 pieces of audio-visual contents which were made to sensitize people with disabilities across platforms on the social media. The team would also mobilize people within the communities in the FCT to come out on election day for voting.
A lot of participants in the event commended the idea for the #WeCare campaign and expressed their renewed zeal to ensure that they collect their PVCs and vote. Participants who also had their PVCs pledged readiness to vote on the election day and appreciated the efforts of CEAMI to ensure that the community of people with disabilities adequately participate in the general elections.
Chibuike Utaka is a Lawyer, seasoned Media practitioner and Communications Advisor for CEAMI. He’s based in Abuja. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org