Gbarpolu County – The Vice Chairman of people living with disability in Liberia has commended NEC for conducting a two-day sensitization for people with disabilities about the voting process while cautioning against manipulating voters with visual impairment.
Daniel N. O. Dagbe called on Liberians to be accountable to visually impaired people on elections day.
“Our visually impaired people, are members of our union and must be treated fair – I mean no helper, it can be a family member or whosoever shall not select the wrong candidates for them,” Mr. Dagbe warned.
The two-day awareness from August 28 to 29 brought together 70 participants from five counties in Liberia and was conducted by the gender section of NEC in collaboration with International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES) under the “Access for all – inclusive elections” program.
Participants and sensitizers were drawn from Sinoe, Grand Cape Mount, Montserrado, and Bomi, and Gbarpolu Counties.
The workshop was to properly prepare persons with disability “make informed-decision for their children and country”, a NEC official said at the program.
Dagbe encouraged members of the physically challenged in the country to take advantage of the opportunity that will be given them on election day by turning out soon to cast their ballot.
“We are going home with added ideas on the commission’s activities – so let us make use of it by taking part in all the electoral program,” he said while urging his colleagues to be civil in their approach during the entire electoral process.
“This will be challenging for the fact that some of our people cannot see and there will be no Tap-tap ballot,” added Bendu Fahnbullah, coordinator of people living with disability in Grand Cape Mount County.
She said although they will create awareness in Grand Cape Mount County, some of the citizens will be unfair to their family members on election’s day.
”NEC, have done their part, we will also do our part as leaders. But some of our people will surely be cheated because somebody that will be helping them will mark the wrong person for them but God will judge them and save our land,” Fahnbulleh said.
Varney Sharman, the coordinator of the Bomi chapter of people living with disabilities, said the workshop came at the right time.
“We taught NEC finished (has) forgotten us in this whole election – but that is not the case and so I think bringing us together here is good and on time,” Sharman said, promising to that they knowledge acquired with members of the disabled community in Bomi County. “We will inform our people through radios, at our offices and even at any programs that I will or we will be invited to talk on behalf of our union”.
Meanwhile, Attorney Nathan Garbie of NEC thanked the participant for attending the program. “Irrespective of your condition, in terms of being physically challenged it’s a sacrifice you are making not for the commission but for your country”.
Atty Garbie described the elections as a “process that decides how the country moves from one place to another – transfer of power from one government another government”.
He said, under the Acces for all – Inclusive Elections program, the commission is holistically sensitizing all members of the society about the electoral process.
“Each of this activity is significant and will lead us to conduct successful elections and you must be part as usual,” said the NEC official.
“Some of our brothers and sisters here cannot see, so you can’t see the people. But we need to show you some kind-na-way (some kind of way) so that you too can know where peter is sitting, where Paul sitting down on the paper so that you too when you go inside there you can do it for yourself,” Garbie said.
For his part, Kollie Lamendine, NEC Gbarpolu magistrate, praised the participants for traveling from their respective counties to attend the CVE program.
Lamendine urged the target beneficiaries to share the information acquired with members of their respective organizations.
Report By: Henry B. Gboluma, Jr.