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Everyday Heroes

Everyday Heroes: Lois Auta

The Synonym for ‘Against all Odds’; the epitome of ‘living without limits’; the symbol of ‘hope for the handicapped’; a depiction of ‘the abilities in disabilities’; …if the categorization could go on, Lois Auta will be all that, and possibly more.

Lois Auta, who was born on the 29th April 1980, had poliomyelitis affect her legs at the age of two;an incidence that would change her life forever. Though a seemingly negative occurrence, Lois sees it from a purely positive perspective. She speaks of her Poliomyelitis as “a bridge and not a barricade”[1], Despite her seeming humble background, which saw her sell recharge cards to pay her school fees, Lois has risen to an elated position of putting many on scholarships. Her disabilityhas lost the ability to deter her zeal, wane her will power or extinguish her passion. A passion for the girl child and less privileged; a passion for those having any form of disability.

Auta: Faith over Fate

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Lois has been an ardent believer in her faith. She attributes everything she has achieved to firstly, God. That belief informs her decision to succeed; she thinks only in ‘YES I CAN’ terms; to her, ‘Impossible means I’m possible’. Being greatly impacted by her late mother, Ladi Auta, Lois recounts her mother being her teacher, role model, adviser, backbone and the crucial element to her having a proper self-esteem despite her disability. Lois has also drawn strength from Joni Eraeckson Tada (for her faith in God, disability activism and determination), and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (for her intelligence in policy making and influence).

Auta: Extraordinary Persona, Exclusive Places, Exceptional Privileges.

Lois Auta has never viewed her disabilities as a liability. Her only view has been beyond the disabilities to the abilities; beyond oppositions to opportunities. Much more, Lois has turned challenges to chances for the disabled to enjoy. For example, through her advocacy, she has made some persons with disabilities to enjoy employment opportunities, scholarship grants, sign language interpreters to be included during meetings, ramps to be built in some offices, schools, churches, restaurants and other social places.[2] Her enterprising nature has also afforded her the opportunity to meet with people from all walks of life; Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Senators, Representatives at different levels, CEO’s (including Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook), Athletes etc.

Auta: Advocacy, Achievements and Awards

  • She is the Founder and the Executive Director, Cedar Seed Foundatios.
  • She is also the founder of Ability Africa.
  • Auta is the President of Women on Wheels Multipurpose Cooperative Society.
  • Lois Auta has received awards for her role in promoting disabled sport globally in the United States.[3]
  • Auta is the President of FCT Disabled Sports Club, Abuja.
  • She also serves as a Board Member of Potters Gallery Initiative.
  • She is a Member of the Joint National Association of Person with Disability.
  • Lois Auta was hosted among the 30 Nigerians by President Muhammadu Buhari for technology, innovation and creativity.[4]
  • Lois Auta is a Board Member of the Federation of Civil Servants Staff with Disabilities Multipurpose Cooperative Society
  • She is also a Mandela Washington Fellow, Vice President Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni Association, Nigeria. Her outstanding credibility and activities also featured in a selection in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, the first class of 2014, an initiative of President Barack Obama. She also met with President Barack Obama and got a presidential handshake from him, as well as a hug from first lady Michelle Obama.[5]
  • Lois Auta is also a support staff with Nigerian National Petroleum Coorporation.[6]

Impacts and Projections

Lois Auta addressing disabled people during one of her campaigns. Source: LinkedIn

Lois has given scholarships to girls and women with disabilities through her Cedar Seed Foundation, and with the support of the Sahara Foundation, U.S Embassy and NNPC. She has also trained women on ICT through the support of the Nigerian Communications Commission and the U.S Embassy. Lois is currently part of the working committee on having a Disability health policy for women with disabilities in Nigeria, initiated by the Disability Rights Advocacy Centre and Federal Ministry of Health and Supported by USAID. She also serves to mentor younger girls-both abled and disabled-on how to move to the next level.[7]

Lois Auta envisions herself as a major game player, not only in Nigeria, but Africa as well. Her areas of interests are basically gender policies and advocacies for women inclusion and people living with disabilities in government policies and programs. She foresees advocacy for a 50/50 affirmative action on all policies, programs, committees and positions and appointments for women (and people living with disabilities where concerned).

Heroes give people something to thank them for; in addition to all she has done, we hope generations too come will also have something to thank Lois for.

 

Sources: Paw Africa, Lois Auta, She Forum Africa, 

Dorcas Omolade, “Auta; Disability is Blessing in Disguise”. Guardian News Paper, 14 August 2016.

News Editor, ’President Buhari to host tech’s brightest minds at Aso Rock”. Nigerian Newspaper Today, 29 September, 2016.

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Jeremiah Aluwong

Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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