By Emmanuel Oloniruha
The Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has pledged to partner with the Albino Foundation to ensure that Persons Living with Disability were mainstreamed into electoral process and party leadership positions in the country.
Chairman of IPAC, High Chief Peter Ameh, made the pledge when the foundation paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja on Thursday.
Ameh who said it was important to harness the potential of persons living with disability, said that IPAC would sure that political parties open up political space for their participation.
He added that the council had been working seriously and tirelessly for inclusiveness of all citizens, saying without inclusiveness, democracy does not exist.
“The most important part of the democratic government is not election but parties structure and leadership structure.
“We want to speak with our members through the gender and disability desk of the council to see how much of persons living with disability will be mainstream into party leadership structures.
“Because if we have this unique people in party structure across Nigeria , if they come for convention, they will be able to support their members because it is a strategic thinking for us.
“I am an unapologetic advocate for multi-party democracy and for inclusiveness. So, that is very important to us” he said.
The chairman added that looking at the population of persons living with disability in the country, which he quoted as 25 million, they were enough to determine the outcome of election in the country.
Ameh assured the foundation of the council’s readiness to work together in order to achieve the set goal of the collaboration they were going into.
“I assure you that IPAC is ready and willing to commit both resource and manpower to this process in achieving the set objectives that we all wished.
“In that process , it will also make our election inclusive, accommodating for every group of person in the country.
“It is the commitment of members of the council here that we are committed in making sure that this project work to a logical conclusion, ” Ameh added.
Speaking earlier, Mr Jake Epelle, the Founder of the foundation, said that the visit was to seek IPAC partnership for inclusion of persons with disability in electoral and political processes.
“We are here to solicit your support and also brief you on what we are doing as the proposed partnership we intend to have with you to see that persons with disability can have space to participate in all structures.
“Prior to 2019 election, the foundation with other NGOs won a brand from European Union for this project, known as the inclusion of persons with disability in election process.
“Our major stakeholders has been the Independent National Electoral Commission and political parties.
“But because the project was launched close to the election period, the political parties were very busy so we didn’t really have the needed attention and access that we wanted, ” he said.
Epelle said that not only did persons with disability faced discrimination in Nigeria societies, several factors also hindered their ability to effectively and equally participate in political and electoral processes with others on an equal basis.
He added lack of access to information, outright discrimination and institutional problems also severed as some of the major challenges to their participation in politics. (NAN)