From rMolly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian Army Officers Wives Association (NAOWA) says that it has concluded arrangements to empower 5,810 widows and wives of soldiers with seed money to start and grow their businesses.
The grant according to the wife of the Chief Of Army Staff, Mrs Fati Attahiru, was made possible through the federal government NIRSAL COVID-19, palliative that provides small and medium scale entrepreneurs with funds to boost their businesses.
Mrs Attahiru, who is also the president of NAOWA, made this known when led members of the association on a courtesy visit to the COAS, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru in his office at the army headquarters in Abuja over the weekend.
To ensure adequate and judicious utilisation of the funds, the NAOWA, president said it would embark on series of intensive training programs by the second quarter of 2021, to equip the women with the necessary knowledge needed to go into whatever business they want to engage in so as not to fail.
She also hinted of her decision to upgrade and standardise all NAOWA schools, colleges, vocational centres and businesses with state of the art Information and Communication Technology (ICT), laboratories and a functional library for children to have access to all they need to stand tall amongst their peers.
The NAOWA president, who used the occasion to intimate the COAS and his Principal Staff Officers (PSOs), of her vision and mission for the association, said: ‘I envision a barrack community of self-reliant women and youth that actively seek opportunities to achieve their fullest potential.
‘My mission is to improve the quality of life of women and youth in the barracks through the provision of sustainable livelihood opportunities, cleaner and greener communities and superior healthcare systems that cater for both physical and mental wellbeing.
‘Hence, upon assuming office as National President, interactions with NAOWA members and wives of soldiers signaled the need to put our wellbeing on the front burner. I then organised brainstorming sessions around mental health awareness to learn more of the depth and realised it is an area that requires urgent and detailed attention. The result of which is the conceptualisation of the NAOWA Wellness centre.
‘It is without doubt that we not only need but deserve a serene environment for all of us to attend to our mental wellbeing and get support from trained, seasoned counselors, mental health experts or even to safely take our minds away from our worries over a game of chess or a workout session at the gym. Knowing well how difficult our jobs are as officers protecting our dear country and as wives of officers looking after the home front. I am pleased inform you Sirs, that the groundbreaking ceremony of the first ever NAOWA wellness centre will take place on Monday the 29th of March 2021. We would be honored to host you, and your gallant officers as Special Guests at this event.
‘Secondly, I recall from our sessions with wives of soldiers, some women linking their mental health challenges to lack of funds….funny or strange as it may sound….its a valid point as one’s mental health is tested when we are unable to cover our basic immediate needs, hence my 2nd area of focus speaks directly to this.
‘To provide grants for our women to support their businesses, I am pleased to report to you that my women and I have been able to access the NIRSAL COVID-19 palliative, which is an FGN intervention programme that provides start up grants to boost the businesses of small and medium scale entreprenuers.
‘Through this scheme, we will be able to empower 5,810 widows, wives of soldiers and officers with seed money to start or grow their businesses. Furthermore, by 2nd quarter of 2021, series of empowerment training programmes will be organised to ensure the funds are utilised judiciously. One of our training programme is targeted at greening and cleaning our barracks. It is waste to wealth programme where refuse in the barracks is converted to useful materials like briquette coal, household utensils and building materials. With this, we hope to have addressed the problem right from its root as both the NIRSAL initiative and the empowerment programmes will go along way in ameliorating the living conditions in the barrack community.
‘Sir, as you know, NAOWA is a sisterhood where everyone of us contributes in ensuring the growth of our dear organisation. Just like our husbands, we are resourceful, result -oriented and selfless women who believe in teamwork and passionately work together irrespective of our differences to uplift others. Together, we’re proud to say that we have successfully established and operated schools, colleges, vocational centres and businesses under the NAOWA umbrella for many years and this year, as my 3rd area of focus, we aim to upgrade and standardise our institutions to ensure they meet minimum standards. Hence, all our schools for instance will be well equipped with ICT labs and a functional library in other for our children to have access to all they need to stand tall amongst their peers.’
Receiving the delegation to his office, Gen Attahiru commended members of the association who he said have supported their husbands in taking care of the home fronts while they are in the theatre and promised the support of the Nigerian Army to the association.