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INEC assures People with Disabilities of unhindered access during governorship elections



INEC Logo and Chairman
INEC Logo and Chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu


Independent National Electoral Commission has declared in Abuja that it has made adequate preparations to improve the participation of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the forthcoming Osun and Ekiti governorship elections.

Prof. Abdulganiy Raji, INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner in Osun made this known at the 7th Access Nigeria Campaign Stakeholders’ Roundtable on Inclusive Elections in Nigeria.

Raji said equipment had been provided to ensure that electoral framework and environmental barriers were taken care of.

He said that INEC wanted more inclusive elections and had taken some steps to ensure that PWDs were included in the electoral processes.

“We are not only preparing Braille ballot papers for visually-impaired persons, what are also providing Braille jackets.

“PWDs will use the same ballot papers that others are using, but the ballot paper will now be inserted into Braille jackets.

“This means that one braille jacket can be used by all visually-impaired persons at a polling unit.

“It is not a matter of printing 174,000 Braille ballot papers, but a jacket will now cover all. We have also made provisions for considerable number of magnifying glasses in each ward,’’ he said.

Raji added that INEC was also providing sign language interpreters for those with hearing impairment.
He added that INEC would provide specialised torchlights to help albinos to see clearly at polling units.

In her remarks, the Disability Inclusion Officer at Inclusive Friends Association (IFA), an NGO, Tracy Onabis, expressed concern that PWDs continued to face significant barriers in participating in elections.
She represented IFA’s Executive Director, Grace Jerry, at the roundtable.

Jerry noted that barriers faced by PWDs discouraged them from participating in elections.

She said the roundtable aimed at securing commitments for the introduction of electoral reforms like the introduction of the Braille ballot guide for the visually-impaired and voting instructions for voters with hearing impairments.

Jerry said the roundtable became imperative because IFA deployed sample-based election observation to the Nov. 6, 2021 Anambra governorship election and noted the barriers PWDs experienced.

“IFA observed that in 34 per cent of sampled polling units at the Anambra election, Persons with Disabilities were not given priority to vote in line with INEC’s guidelines.

“It was only in 20 per cent of polling units visited that voters with visual impairments used the Braille Ballot guide.

“This number showed that if the Braille ballot guide was available at more polling units, more voters with visual impairments would have been able to use it.

“Access Nigeria observers reported that 54 per cent of the routes (roads) leading to the areas where sampled polling units were located were inaccessible for PWDs,’’ she said.

Jerry added that as the 2022 off-cycle governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun approached, the group was confident that electoral stakeholders would once again commit to making the elections accessible for PWDs.

In his contribution, Mr Bem Aga, Programme Director at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) said the roundtable was one of the many platforms created by IFA to advocate for the implementation of recommendations for PWDs.

“The implementation of IFA’s recommendations, which include making polling units more physically accessible for PWDs, will go a long way to make the Ekiti and Osun elections more accessible for PWDs,” he said.

Aga said the NDI was hopeful that INEC and other stakeholders would make commitments on making the Ekiti and Osun elections more accessible for PWDs and keep to the commitments.

The roundtable was organised by IFA on its Access Nigeria Campaign with support from the NDI and other partners.






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I made mistake in picking Atiku as my Running Mate in 1999 – Obasanjo laments



Former President Olusegun Obasanjo


Ex-President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has disclosed that when he served as a head of state in 1999 as a civilian, he had made a mistake picking his vice.

Obasanjo made this statement while fielding questions from secondary school students at a program at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Obasanjo admitted to making many “genuine mistakes” in his life while interacting with the students, but claimed that God helped him overcome them.

“Choosing my number two when I wanted to be president was one of the errors I made. But God saved me because it was an honest mistake, said Obasanjo.

Obasanjo while interacting with the students revealed that he had made many “genuine mistakes” in his life; saying, however, that God made him overcome them.

“One of the mistakes I made was picking my number two when I wanted to become the president. But because it was a genuine mistake, God saved me,” Obasanjo said.
According to reports, Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential contender, served as Obasanjo’s second-in-command from 1999 to 2007.

Obasanjo and Atiku clashed with one and other for years while in government over matters they couldn’t agree on.

When discussing his second error, Obasanjo claimed that it occurred when General Sani Abacha, a late military ruler, was going to arrest him and the American Embassy offered him asylum which he refused.

Obasanjo claimed that had God not intervened, he would have perished during his time in prison.

“When Abacha wanted to arrest me, I was told by the American ambassador that they will arrest me and that America has asked that I should be given an asylum. I said no. It could have been a mistake because I could have lost my life.”

The Balogun Owu stated that God had saved him from many things that could have been a mistake.

When asked whether the youths could be allowed to rule the nation, Obasanjo expressed worries, stating that youths may never come into power should the current trend in Nigeria continues.

The former president regretted that in spite of the “Not Too Young to Run” campaign, people contesting to rule the nation are between 70 and 80 years old.

“How can the youths run,” he asked, adding that the amount of money involved in going into politics would not allow youths to get to leadership positions.

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Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu

No fewer than 5000 Lagosians are to be enrolled in the Ilera Eko Social Health Plan – courtesy of the Lagos State Executive Council.

The gesture is to celebrate Governor Sanwo-Olu’s 57th birthday on June 25 and in the spirit of his compassion for the indigent and vulnerable.

Beneficiaries will have access to quality health care services and drugs under the ILERA EKO Standard Plan at no cost to them.

Nominees will be selected from the Lagos State Social Protection Register. An equal number of the 5000 eligible beneficiaries are to be selected from the five IBILE divisions of the State and will enjoy Universal Health Coverage.

These beneficiaries have been identified using a multi-dimensional poverty index tool, which includes the poverty means-testing to ensure accuracy, reliability and validity of the data generated.

ILERA EKO is the State Social Health Insurance Plan managed by Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), which offers the basic minimum health plan that provides quality and affordable healthcare for all Lagos residents, especially the middle and low-income earners as well as the vulnerable.

Services on the Plan include: General consultations; Specialist Consultations; Management of uncomplicated chronic diseases (Diabetes, Hypertension, Asthma); Maternal and Newborn Care; Normal Delivery and Caesarean Section; Dental Care (with Composite filling) and Eye Care, including glasses.

There are also minor and major surgeries; laboratory tests and scans; HIV/TB Testing services; Emergency Health Services; Cancer Care and the provision of prescribed drugs.

A policy cycle under the ILERA EKO Health Insurance Plan runs for 12 calendar months in which an enrolee’s policy is due for renewal before the 25th day of the 12th month to enable such subscribers have access to care the next month (Start of renewed policy cycle).

The selected beneficiaries will commence access to care from July 1, 2022.

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Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Wife remanded as UK Court denies them bail



Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife


An Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court in the United Kingdom did not grant bail to Ike Ekweremadu, former Deputy Senate President, and Beatrice, his wife, who were apprehended over attempted harvesting of organs.

It was gathered that the Nigerian couple was detained by the Metropolitan Police when they tried harvesting an unnamed child’s organs.

When the Senator was arraigned on Thursday, the court refused to grant him bail but ordered that he should be remanded till July 7

The Metropolitan Police while confirming the arrest said in a statement that the pair were charged to court on Thursday following an investigation by the police’ specialist crime team.

“Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55 (10.9.66) of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting,” the statement read.

“Ike Ekweremadu, 60 (12.05.62) of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.

They have both been remanded in custody and will appear at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court later today.

“A child has been safeguarded and we are working closely with partners on continued support.”

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