By Elkass I.L. Sannoh
The newly appointed Commissioner of the National Commission for Persons with Disability, Fredrick Kamara, has urged President Ernest Bai Koroma and his government to render unflinching support in promoting the interests of disabled people in the country.
“The Commission will do its level best to make sure that persons with disability become assets of this nation and serve as active members of the society. I therefore want to use this opportunity to humbly call for the full support of the government and all stakeholders,” Commissioner Kamara said.
He thanked the Sierra Leone Union of Persons with Disability and other disability organisations in the country that has over the years worked assiduously to ensure that the Disability Bill was passed into an Act of Parliament. He said the time has now come for all Sierra Leoneans to know that there was truly ability in disability.
Presenting members of the Commission to President Koroma at the Presidential Lodge, Hill Station, Freetown, Commissioner Kamara said the Commission comprises representatives of Eight Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and two international non-governmental organizations.
He disclosed that he was impressed with the composition of the Commission, and that he wanted to see a collective as well as effective commencement of the full operations of the Commission.
In his congratulatory remarks, President Ernest Bai Koroma admonished the new Commissioner to note that the challenges ahead were huge and that he must equally be ready to surmount them.
“I can only say that we have come to the end of the road in the appointment of the Commissioners, as it was a journey of great expectations,” said President Koroma.
He said the accolade must not only be given to his government, but to all persons with disability as well who stood their ground to see that their request was granted.
President Koroma registered government’s fullest dedication and commitment towards reforming the lives of persons with disability saying, “Sierra Leoneans with disability issues should have equal opportunities. Opportunities must be created for the disable members of society, and we must send out signals to the whole world that they are indeed Sierra Leoneans, by creating a favourable working environment with specialized knowledge to teach them; and medical facilities for them to ensure that persons with disability are fully integrated into the society.”
The President reiterated his government’s commitment to the protection and promotion of the welfare of persons with disability.
“My doors remain open and we must hit the ground running in addressing disability issues and get our brothers and sisters out of the streets, as a good number of them have talents waiting to be tapped,” he said.
President Koroma also said government, through the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, would continue to support the National Commission for Persons with Disability.
It would be recalled that the Persons with Disability Act 2011 is an Act to establish a National Commission for Persons with Disability, to prohibit discrimination against such persons, achieve equalization of opportunities for all Sierra Leoneans and to provide for their related matters. According to the Act, the Commission was established to ensure the wellbeing of persons with disability.
Speaking exclusively to AYV, the Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Steven Gaoja, said shortly after the official presentation of the Commissioners of the Disability Commission to President Koroma, he received numerous calls regarding the establishment of the Commission as welcome news among many Sierra Leoneans.
“This government is sensitive to the plight of persons with disability. That’s why the law to tackle concerns of disabled people was passed last year through the responsible and visionary leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma,” said Mr. Gaoja.