Sierra Leone’s first ever disabled Member of Parliament, Julius Nyei Cuffie did not enter parliament through any unconventional way, but as an elected member for constituency 109.
Speaking to Awoko in an interview, Hon Cuffie said one of the reasons why he has gone into politics is because of the unfair representation of the disabled.
He stated “I believe I have a personal crusade, creating the structures and foundations that will create equal opportunities to enhance the dignity and developmental orientation of persons with disabilities” adding “My constituency is the disabled”
Explaining further how he intend advocating for his colleagues he said with regards the United Nations integral international convention protecting the rights and dignities of persons with disabilities, which was adopted by the UN, Hon Cuffie who is a lawyer by profession says he shall advocate for that convention to be ratified by the Sierra Leone parliament.
With an optimistic tone in his voice, Hon. Cuffie said President Koroma treats disability issues with very high priority, therefore given his access and cordiality with the President, he believes the hopes and aspirations of the disabled will be met.
He recommended very strong legislation on the rights of the disabled, the ratification of the UN convention in to law and the setting up of a commission protecting the disabled as a way of addressing disability issues.
When asked how he felt seeing some of his colleagues begging and sleeping in the open he reacted “I do not feel good because no sane man loves to beg … we know it lowers the dignity of persons, I also feel that one of the issues that contributes to that is because there is no proper structure in place to enhance individual persons living with disabilities and if those structures are in place, the begging will dissipate”
The 30year old lawyer has been a disability rights advocate for over ten years.
An active sportsman Hon. Cuffie has represented the country internationally on table tennis competitions.