Lois Auta has over five years of experience advocating for the betterment of persons with disabilities. She is a support staff with NNPC, she is the founder and team leader of Cedar Seed Foundation, Nigeria. The NGO’s objective is to mainstream the issues and concerns of women, girls and children with disabilities in Nigeria into the national development agenda based on the United Nations evaluation of the rights of persons with disabilities (PWDs). Cedar Seed Foundation visualizes a world where People with Disability constituency participates fully in the society and enjoys equal rights. Lois is a young physically challenged lady who is very productive, a role model, hardworking, and full of ideas. She has never allowed her disability to make her a liability despite her humble background but fought her way through life. She proved her ability by driving from Abuja to Kano, about 428km, (5 hours 45 minutes) to meet with late Galadima of Kano on how to empower persons with disabilities educationally, may his soul rest in peace. Amen. She is a sports athlete, in her empathy for her disabled colleagues and the passion in empowering them socio-economically; she set up this organization in search of ways to better their lives, thereby helping to integrate them into the society as responsible and productive citizens. She is the President,FCTDisabled Sports Club – Abuja, Vice President Mandela Washington Fellow Alumni, Nigeria Chapter, Board Member- Federation of Civil Servants Staff with Disabilities Multipurpose Cooperative Society, Assistant National Coordinator – Advocacy for Women with Disabilities Initiative, Board Member – Potters Gallery Initiative, Member – Joint National Associations of Persons with disabilities, founder, Ability Africa, president, women on wheels multipurpose cooperative society.
She holds a diploma in Public administration from University of Abuja and is presently a Bachelor of Science (400 L) undergraduate in Public Administration from the same university.
She was born on 29 of April, 1980 to the family of Auta Akok, the seventh of eleven children, she was born at 13th wedding anniversary of her parents. They wedded on 29 April, 1967. That’s remarkable and she seems special and blessed from birth. She was born into a Christian family and hails from Kagoro, Kaura Local Government of Kaduna State, raised in Kagoro by her lovely parents and siblings by names, Ladi, Jonathan, Christopher, Alice, Obadiah, Didam, Albert, Nimrod, Emmanuel, Ben and Matilda. Her parents and her siblings Jonathan, Alice, Obadiah and Didam has passed on but their legacies and memories still lives and linger on. She wishes they stayed longer to eat the fruits of their labour. They were her backbone, they made her the woman she is today and gave her life to the fullest. Wherever they are now, they should be very proud of her and she owes her entire success to them. Lois mourns and prays for them to rest in peace until she meets them again to part no more. Her siblings who are still living Chris, Albert, Nimrod, Emma, Ben and Matilda, she appreciate their support and wish to be part of the family even in her next world. She also acknowledge the support of her sister’s in-laws Ann, Lilian, Kasham and Maryam, her nieces and nephews Konyan, Sapphire, the twins (Merciful and Faithful), Gracious, Estella and Zina. She attribute the entire support for the much achieve to the God and Creator.
LIFE WHEN GROWING UP
She saw herself physically different from her siblings, children and people around her but she never allowed it weigh her down rather it gave her the strength to move on. It was an uphill task growing up as a child with disability, physically different from other children at home and pupils in the school. She was shy to mingle with other children; she was scared of attending public functions or social gathering, always staying indoors and isolated. It took the resilient effort of her parents to brace her up and she was able to reignite her self-esteem. Some persons with disabilities blame God for their disability but she praise God for hers because to her God is using her to manifest his greatness to mankind. Some see their disabilities as weakness, she sees hers as strength, some wait for others to give them but she works to give others. She has vowed that disability would not stop her from realizing her destiny and actualizing her goals. She is working relentlessly to be a blessing to her generation and be a source of envy not pity. She is of a strong belief that disability only affected her legs not her brains, and her vocation that she has started off in good note, she will work so hard to sustain the pace and finish also in a good one with the support of God. Some persons with disabilities see their disabilities as a challenge; she sees hers as an opportunity. With disability she drove from Abuja to Kano, she has received awards of excellent, she has empowered others, and she has explored many things in many ways and excelled, why? Due to hard work, help from God and commitment. In disability, this young lady has created abilities, hope and a brighter future. If she could do it, so many others can do it. Young people, Stop waiting for someone to help you, rise up, start doing something and investors will find you. Disability can never define you rather you define abilities in many special ways. In a world of disability, there is ability!
She was bullied by her classmates, they mimicked the way she walk, she was mocked alongside my parents, abuses like; you cannot go anywhere in life, lets watch and see how you will marry, that girl ”with no legs”, that disabled girl cannot do something meaningful in her life. People looked down on her, they always remind her parents that they have a child with disability and her parents responded that they should wait and see what their child will become. Her parents as if they can see tomorrow bragged that she will be the best in her endeavours and she will definitely be a great woman. Today, the girl they mocked, called all sort of names, the girl they looked down on, the girl they said can never go anywhere, who they even referred as ”no legs girl” has become a great woman, an administrator, a disability affairs advocate and activist, an international figure, a great leader, no legs girl is going to places they have never imagined, is now having meetings with the world presidents, world leaders, force to reckon with, a blessing and an achiever. Where are their children?
Lois Auta credibility also featured in its selection and participation as a member of the technical committee for the deliberation and draft of Nigerian Disability Bill passed at the two arms of National Assembly, waiting for presidential assent now. She participated in Vision 20:2020 as a special interest group member for persons with disabilities. A member of the constitutional review representing persons with disabilities for North Central Geo-political zone. She was the first and only female disabled to be among the extraordinary (1000) youths that were selected to celebrate Nigeria’s democracy day with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and federal ministers on 29th May, 2014, held at International Conference Centre, FCT Abuja. Lois Auta was the first Miss Wheelchair Kaduna State. She is the first female living with disability to work with NNPC from Southern Kaduna. She attended and participated at International Wheelchair Tennis Federation, double master’s clinic, Mission Viejo, California, USA. The first disabled and only fellow to receive an award from Linking Sports and Communities, United States of America for promoting disabled sports globally. She is the first to receive a certificate of Washington Fellowship signed by President Obama from Northern Nigeria. Lois Auta is the first physically challenged Mandela Washington Fellow in Kaduna State and the entire Northern Nigeria. The first disabled lady in Nigeria to meet the Obamas, She had a handshake with President Obama and a hug from Michelle Obama.
Lois Auta activities have attracted international recognition, one of which is the just concluded 2014 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in the United States of America, about 50,000 youths applied in Africa, 15,000 of the applications received came from Nigeria, only 500 were finally selected. In Nigeria alone, just 44 made it to the USA. You could see how tough it was; only the best and the brightest were selected. The CEO spent six weeks at Arizona State University studying Civic Leadership and one week in Washington DC. Lois Auta is now a Mandela Washington Fellow. She participated fully and awarded as one of the best graduating Fellows and was given an award by Linking Sports and Communities as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) for promoting disabled sports globally.
The Executive Director/Founder, Lois Auta who is a support staff with NNPC has been nominated and elected on the 16th October, 2014 as Vice President of the Mandela Washington Fellows Alumni, Nigerian Chapter a program of Barack Obama during a 4 days reunion conference at US General Consulate Office, Lagos. She is the assistant national coordinator, Advocacy for women with disabilities initiative, she is the president FCT disabled sports club, she is a board member, potters gallery initiative, she is also a board member cooperative federation of persons with disabilities in Nigeria, founder, Ability Africa, president, women on wheels multipurpose cooperative society.
HER ORGANIZATION CEDAR SEED FOUNDATION
Cedar Seed Foundation, (CSF) is a Youth led non-governmental, non-profit and non-sectarian membership based development organization that promotes the participation of women and young persons with disabilities into human rights based development in Nigeria, founded and run by Lois Auta and her team members. Their membership includes women groups, self-help groups, special schools, cooperative societies/groups representing over 55,000 memberships across Nigeria. They work to mainstream the issues and concerns of persons (females and males) with disabilities in Nigeria into the national development agenda based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Cedar Seed Foundation has been active and running activities for the past five years, though formally registered in 2013.
Empower persons with disabilities
The organization focuses on ensuring that women and young persons with disabilities practically participate fully in addressing their key sensitive issues in the society and enjoy equal human rights based development and opportunities by providing services that support youth and persons with disabilities in all aspects of life.
WHAT THEY DO
They mainstream the issues and concerns of persons with disabilities in Nigeria into the national development agenda based on the United Nations convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and of action on the rights of persons with disabilities.
Democracy and good governance
Medical Health Services
Economic and Social Security
DEVELOPMENT STRATEG IES
PROJECTS THEY HAVE DONE SO FAR
CSF has in 2012, partnered with Potters Gallery Initiative to carry out an empowerment programme for people with disabilities (PWDs) using Art exhibition to present, discuss and document their electoral experiences through Democratic Governance for Development with contributions from EU, UKAID,CIDA and UNDP. The project was designed in view of the challenges around infrastructure and how most people with disability were disenfranchised due to their inability to access polling units. The event involved the people with disability doing an art exhibition that captured their own personal stories on their electoral experiences. This initiative was termed “Vital Voices for Democracy”.
CSF has also successfully implemented an empowerment project tagged ”Easter Reach Out” in 2013 which supported 120 PWDs with mobility aids in Kaduna State. The project was funded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. CSF also had an event ”Inclusive Education Project” where they awarded scholarships and provided scholastic materials to 100 students with disabilities in May 2014 in Abuja, with fund support from Sahara Group.
With support from US Embassy, NDI and UNDP (through DGD), CSF also carried out Capacity Building Training workshop on Organizational Capacity development in collaboration with Potters Gallery Initiative for the members of the two organizations.
In September, 2014 with the support of US Embassy, Nigeria. Cedar Seed Foundation empowered 30 young persons with disabilities from ages 18 to 25 with International Jazz Artist Bobby Ricketts on Music skills in Abuja. It was inspiring.
December 03, 2014 Cedar Seed Foundation in commemoration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities marked the day by an advocacy walk, radio talk show and a press conference, they talked about nagging issues on disability, the theme for the year and demanded President Goodluck to sign our bill into law. Media outfits, CSF team members and friends of the disabled were present and the event was aired on national news on major television channels in Nigeria. It was a huge success.
December 22, 2014 Cedar Seed Foundation organized Christmas Reach-Out with support from Sahara Group distributed 50kgs of bags of rice to each beneficiary. More than 100 persons with disabilities in the FCT participated and benefited from the event, drawn from the six area councils of the federal capital territory. Lives were touched!
CSF is a reputable organization registered with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with Reg. number 63008 and as well a legally registered org. with Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) and Coalition for Youth Capacity (CYC).
- The Autas
- United Nations Development Program
- Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
- Sahara Group
- United States of America Embassy, Nigeria.
- Youngstars Foundation
- New Estate Baptist Church
- House of David, Utako, Abuja, Nigeria, June 2012 — The Most Courageous Member
- National Wheelchair Tennis Federation Clinic, Abuja, Nigeria May 2013 —- Best Female Player/Winner
- Linking Sports and Communities, Arizona, USA July 2014 —– (MVP) Most Valuable Player for promoting disabled sports globally.
HOW WILL SHE BE REMEMBERED?
Lois Auta wants to write her name in Gold and in her words, she said the following; I want to be remembered as a change maker, a servant, a giver, a passionate leader, a problem solver, a leader with innovative ideas, a good listener, generous woman, a committed and transparent leader, helper, an ethical leader and a woman with integrity. Whoever you are, whatever your pedigree, you and I will only be remembered for two things after this life. The problems you created in peoples life OR the problems you solved in peoples life.
HER MESSAGE TO MR PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI
Persons with disabilities have rights and such rights could be exercised when our bill is signed into law with a commission to run our affairs, Nigerian disability bill have been harmonized in both houses. Please, ejoh, kusu, don Allah Sir, kindly assent to our bill now.
To be a change agent in her community and society at large. She hopes to contribute her quota in the improvement and building her country Nigeria. She hopes to see Persons with Disabilities as decision makers, leaders of the world leading companies and directors. She hopes to see qualified persons with disabilities being employed. She hopes to see them living a comfortable life. She hopes to see accessible Nigeria for persons with disabilities. She hopes to see end to poverty especially among persons with disabilities, She hopes to see every child is educated, She hopes to see a transparent and accountable government. She hopes to see Nigeria living in peace, love and harmony. She hopes to see the end to boko haram insurgency, killings, bombings, abduction, rape, kidnapping, armed robbery, corruption and gender based violence. She hopes to see an inclusive development in all the three tiers of government. She hopes to see during her lifetime, she dedicated herself to this struggle of the less privileged Nigerian people. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and achieve. I will continue fighting for inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in all government policies and programs until the end of my days.
She is dreaming of implementing African disability act through the help of other stakeholders and partners. She is dreaming of an empathetic community, society and country. A country where people love each other, the kind of love where we truly put others first before ourselves. She is dreaming of a country where education is valued as the means by which society is improved and progressed. She is dreaming of a country where we can all have our needs met. She is also dreaming of a country that is corruption-free. A dream of seeing killings turned to feelings. Dream of a country where disability issues will be prioritized. Dream of a country where everybody enjoys equal rights and opportunities. Dream of a country where resources are shared. Seeing disability act being implemented in this country and Africa just like ADA in the US is a dream of all persons with disabilities.