OKOLI. Cosmas Ikechukwu Blaise

Date of Birth: 1962 State of Origin: Anambra Local Government Area: Aguata Village/Town: Isuolia Mr. Cosmas Ikechukwu Blaise Okoli is an Icon who refused to allow circumstances of life to block his movement up the ladder of success. He said No to physical handicap and Yes to his God who gave him the talents to move on. He refused to be an object of sympathy but a hero and an achiever who is Comforted to Comfort others. He is a man with great heart and determination who. used obstacles on his way as stepping stones to greater height in life. Mr Okoli is a typical Igbo who would never beg food in life in stead he would labour to prov ide for himself. This resilience and tenacity of purpose is a value many do not appreciate again but rather want the Instant Food, instant Money and Instant Success Syndrome that is robbingihc Igbo their cherished virtues of hard work, integrity and honesty. Mr Cosmas Ikechukwu Blaise Okoli was disabled in infancy through undiagnosed and ill treated poliomyelitis. His father suggested he learnt a trade as a cobbler. But the brave Cosmas rejected the idea and went in to school in spite of bullying and taunting of peers. Cosmas saw problems and made a BREAKTHROUGH instead of a BREAKDOWN. Education • Salvation Army School for the Handicapped Children Oji River Enugu Stale • Christ The King College (CKC) Onitsha in the 1970s- here at CKC, the idea of establishing an outfit was nurtured by the brilliant Cosmas so he came out with the concept of Mobility Aids and Appliances Research and Development Centre (MAARDEC). He discarded ihe Callipers and shoes mobility support issued lo him at Oji River which was too restricting lo him. • With his creative mind and industry, he built a new type of Calliper which unlike the one he abandoned or discarded, and used the new one which allowed him to wear any pair of shoes or sandals of his choice. • Attended Federal Polytechnic Oko where he made another breakthrough- The INVENTOR in him made him device a mechanism which enabled people like him with paralysis to drive wilh hands instead of feet. • University of Lagos .Medical School where he studied Physiology and got B.Sc (Hons) Physiology Employment • NYSC One year National service in Lagos State and distinguished himself as the BEST CORPER IN THE YEAR. 1988 1989 with the Merit Award for the Best Corper in the State with the cash bonus. • Was offered automatic employment in the Federal Civil Service though the then Military Head of Stale who gave the big cash capital to enable him start off. did not see the prospect of self improvement in the new job. • Resigned in 1991 and set up the MAARDEC (with the Cash Prize from the award) and stalled tol\\ it in cars for disabled drivers. I* Opened a MAARDEC Centre for production of appliances like wheel chair, clutches, tricycles. Prosthesis, walking frames, urine bags and Lumber Jackets, the blind and dcalT - the Centre began to supply special equipment and support products.) Campaign for Support • Supported at various times the bill passed by both chambers of the National Assembly on Handicapped persons (Public Building Special Facilities Bill 2004 HB 31.) • First Disable Person to Head Nigerian Sports Association for the Disabled ( NSAID) they won Silver Medal in 1990 at World MandeVille Wheel chair Games in UK. Gold and Silver at the First Pan African World Games for the Disabled in 1991 and in Egypt and Led. 31 Athletes and Nine Officials which brought about seven gold and one Silver medals in 1991. the same number and officials hauled, seven gold, one silver and five bronze at the Sydney Paralympics in Australia • Liaise with the Sports Minister to ensure that cash reward from Federal Government given to able bodied athlete . is given as well to the disabled one • Organizes an Annual End of Year Christmas Party since 1991 where MAARDEC gives out prizes and gratis to disabled people who ordinarily cannot afford those items eg helping them to set up Small Scale Enterprises. • MAARDEC has been made to solicit partnership with Corporate Organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Churches or other Charities to continue to support the handicapped and disabled in Nigeria. The Royal Netherlands Embassy in support of OKOLI'S Campaign provided a wide range of MAARDEC's Products for the Salvation Army Home of the Handicapped Children Oji River, in Enugu State. • He has convinced the Later Days Saints Charity in the USA to donate Wheel Chairs of about 250 in number, for distribution to the disabled people. • Has given Kudos to Federal Government and Ashoka Innovators Non-Government Organization based in Arlington Virginia USA. assisted him financially to keep the Centre alive. Goals in Maardec's Vision Statement 'To build and equip an empowerment village by the year 2008 to ensure that 500.000 Nigerians with disabilities acquire efficient and sustainable Mobility Aids and appliances by the year 2005 with 4000 of them gainfully employed. 2000 of them married and 200 of them either elected or appointed into various positions at Federal. State and Local Governments in Nigeria". This is the Big Vision of Cosmas who refused to say No to failure and disability. He is an Icon indeed.
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