We are celebrating the life of Rise Up Leader Ozioma Ihuoma who passed away earlier this year due to health complications. She will be missed greatly by everyone who knew her, including many in the Rise Up global network. Ozioma was an extremely passionate advocate for girls’ education and was fondly called “Ozi” by her fellow Nigeria 2022 cohort members.
“Though calm and soft-spoken, Ozioma exuded passion and power for gender justice at all levels,” Theresa Effa, Rise Up’s Nigeria Country Director, said. “Ozioma believed education is a key to women’s emancipation and would always echo the benefit of girls’ education, citing herself as an example.”
Ozioma and Rise Up Leader Augustine Oyele Ayuba submitted a joint proposal to develop a Nasarawa State Girl-Child Education Policy and received Rise Up grant funding to carry out the project. Before Ozioma’s passing, the policy was successfully developed, validated, finalized, and submitted to the Nasarawa state government through the Ministry of Education.
This month, we commemorated the successful fulfillment of Ozioma and Augustine’s advocacy goal. The occasion marked the official launch ceremony of the Girl-Child Education Policy for Nasarawa State, a cause Ozioma deeply cared about. The event brought together various stakeholders, including Rise Up Leaders, civil society organizations, media representatives, and officials from the Ministries of Education, Justice, Science, and Technology, among others.
Ozioma’s unexpected departure earlier this year had a profound impact on the team, but thanks to Augustine’s unwavering resolve and guidance, the project has continued to thrive. We also extend our heartfelt gratitude to Nmachukwu Gloria Ihegworo, Ozioma’s colleague at the Centre for Women Youth and Community Action, who graciously stepped in to fill the void created by her passing.
Ozioma’s passion for the, “advancement of the less privileged, especially women and girls will be sustained,” Augustine said. “Her legacies will be remembered in all ramifications.”
Ozioma was the program manager at Centre for Women Youth and Community Action, a nongovernmental organization, focused on the mobilization and empowerment of women. She led a program called DREAMS-Likes for adolescent girls. She leaves behind her beloved daughter and sister.
Rise Up Leaders from the Nigeria 2022 cohort reflected on their fond memories of Ozioma and the meaningful change she was working hard to achieve for women and girls in Nasarawa State.
“I believe she lived a memorable legacy as a development worker, working to make women and girls’ lives better even when she was still having health challenges, she still managed to do what she could.”
– Rise Up Leader Mohammed Bayero Yayandi
“Ozioma was an easygoing person, a sweetheart, and a team player. Her humility is palpable, and I will remember her for providing great leadership in group work.”
– Rise Up Leader Jennifer Agbaji
“Ozioma was a soft-spoken person, and she was intentional in carrying people along.”
– Rise Up Leader Salam Kasang
“As a leader Ozioma was a good role model to so many young girls in Nasarawa state. She spent her lifetime building resilience and encouraging young girls to follow their dreams that will improve their lives.”
– Rise Up Leader Ibrahim Ijiwo
“Ozioma was the perfect example of a cool, calm, and collected person. She was strategic and a strong advocate for girls’ education, health, and development. She was also a great team player, and I had a pleasant experience working with her during our in-person training.”
– Rise Up Leader Margaret Bolaji
“Ozioma was one of the most reserved individuals I have come across. It is unfortunate that one who was poised to create change has been short-lived. May her soul rest in peace.”
– Rise Up Leader Sarah Nathaniel
“Although I only knew Ozioma for a short while, I can say that she was a fighter. We met during Rise Up’s in-person workshop in Abuja. I remember her making efforts to actively participate in the sessions despite the health challenges and pains she was going through. Whenever there was a task, she contributed to the team and her words depicted the wisdom that was within her. She will be greatly missed.“
– Rise Up Leader Samuel Onyeledo
“From afar, I pictured Ozioma as a mature, quiet, and decent person. She was calm and gentile in all that she did. These are the qualities that make her unique to me as a Rise Up Leader.”
– Rise Up Leader Franklin Zaure
“Ozioma was a committed leader, one who was dedicated to service and always demonstrated a willingness to improve herself and others around her. She was also a cheerful person, as evidenced by the constant smile on her face. Her goodwill will leave a massive vacuum in the development work in Nasarawa state. Ozioma will be missed.”
– Rise Up Leader Jeremiah Elisha