By Yusufu S. Bangura
The Sierra Leone Union on Disability Issues (SLUDI) has called on President Julius Maada Bio to include Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the governance structure, stating that they too can contribute in nation building.
They made the above call on Wednesday, 19th July, during a press conference at hosted the Milton Margai School for the Blind, Wilkinson Road in Freetown.
Speaking to the press during the event, Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), Saa Lamin Kortequee said inclusion is very important in any society as ‘there is nothing about us without us’ which is the principle for PWDs.
“What we have been saying over the years is that there has been exclusion for a lot of marginalised groups, but due to policies we have seen that women are coming out from that marginalisation. So, we wish similar thing for us PWDs as well. We can have policies that can drive the inclusion of PWDs across the board. Therefore, we are calling on the government to make sure that people with disabilities are included in the governance structure,” he reiterated.
He said in the last parliament, there were two PWDs representing their political parties, but unfortunately those two parliamentarians didn’t return to the 6th Parliament.
He said in the local council they have three PWDS who have been elected as councillors, one in Kambia and two in Makeni.
Kortequee said under the Proportional Representation (PR) System there was a missed opportunity for persons with disabilities because they were not able to get symbols.
“However, we are still hopeful that within the governance structure and due to the political will that has been exhibited so far, there will be more radical way of including PWDs in the current structure. We believe that there are other parastatals and Ambassadorial positions that we can serve as we have highly qualified and competent people within the disability landscape,” he said.
While reading a press statement, National Secretary General for SLUDI, Abu Bakarr Koroma, congratulated President Bio on his re-election.
He commended President Bio for appointing young people and women in governance, although they were yet to see the appointment of PWDs in cabinet, parastatals and ambassadorial positions.
He congratulated the newly appointment Minister of Social Welfare.
“The Union is fully committed to working with the Minister of Social Welfare designate for the appointment of the chairman of the National Commission for Persons with Disability to accomplish the dreams and aspirations for the President and improve the conditions of persons with disability in Sierra Leone,” he said.