Lois Auta, founder of Cedar Seed Foundation, young global leader of the World Economic Forum, an aspirant to the AMAC/Bwari Federal constituency, Abuja.
The female aspirant was only two years old when she was struck by poliomyelitis, which confined her to a wheelchair.
Auta was until recently, a staff of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) under Central Transport Service Section.
In an interview with Daily Sun, she speaks on her disappointment with the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Why did you settle for APC as a platform to realise your ambition considering the bashing it has been receiving in recent times?
APC has shown commitment over the years by appointing a senior special assistant to the president on disability matters. It did not stop there; it has a national coordinator on the party platform on disability matters in the whole 36 states including FCT. They have state, local government and ward coordinators on disability matters. So they have shown us that they are an inclusive party and that moved me to be part of the party. I have been a member of the party over a year now.
Why have you suddenly changed your mind about running on APC platform after paying such glowing tribute to the party?
It is disheartening and discouraging. They are excluding us from political participation with style. I have done my homework, I have paid my dues but nomination fees has stopped me from participating in the APC primaries due to lack of funds.
I was at the national headquarters to confirm whether it is true and I was shocked to hear that I must pay 50 percent. And I told them since it is 50 percent off for women and 50 percent off for persons with disabilities that mean I am paying nothing being a woman and a person with disability, but they said no, I must pay.
I had appealed to Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari and APC leadership to make the forms free for women, young people and persons with disabilities, those in groups I mentioned that have paid their money should be refunded but it seems all my pleas fell on deaf ears.
About my views on the interest and nomination forms I shared earlier, they promised to give persons with disabilities for free but when the form came out for sale, it was 50 percent off for aspirants with disabilities which have excluded the vulnerable groups from the political participation on that platform.
I am switching party due to the exclusion of aspirants with disabilities, young people and women from participating fully in politics. The fees of interest and nomination forms are too exorbitant. The party structures and systems are not friendly to us, that is why we have to re-strategise and join another friendly party.
I went there with N500, 000 that I could raise for the form but I was told they will not collect until it is complete.
I believe I can make it God’s willing on the new party platform that will be announced soon. With my intimidating profile, people’s goodwill, competence, passion, experience, exposure, character, credibility and support from people, there is no party I will run on and will not win.
You are from Kaduna State, why are you aspiring to represent AMAC/Bwari Federal Constituency and not your constituency in Kaduna?
I have been in Abuja since I was 18, so most of my achievements, awards, I got them here in Abuja. As a public servant with NNPC, I pay tax here and even the Cedar Seed Foundation, the project we have been implementing was started here in Abuja. So, I feel I am part of the indigenes of Abuja and I have the right to contest anywhere in Nigeria as a citizen of Nigeria.
Yes, we have some challenges, one of which is language barrier because when you go out for consultations and campaign, some of the people want to talk to you in their language but I won’t be able to respond to their satisfaction. It is one of my major challenges but this is just a challenge, it can be surmounted. With the ideology I am bringing to the party, the projects I am going to implement is not going to be for the Gbagis, Bwaris, Igbo, Yoruba, so ethnicity should not stop good leaders from emerging and participating in politics.
Aside disability issues, what other issues are important to you in the FCT that you will be pushing when elected?
The people of AMAC/Bwari Federal Constituency and other parts of the FCT have for too long suffered from bad roads, inadequate social amenities like water, electricity, good markets, good schools, good hospitals. So my plan for them when I become a member of House of Representatives is to ensure that these things are put in place, that these issues are addressed in the FCT, the bad roads will be turned to good roads, bad schools to good schools, bad hospitals to good hospitals whereby the sick can be taken care of.