By Tony Udemba
It was a joyous moment for some widows resident in Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State, who benefited from the special skills acquisition and entrepreneurship programme of Hon. Emma Oghene Egoh, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) member representing Amuwo-Odofin Federal Constituency in the National Assembly.
The five-day, skills-acquisition and empowerment programme, courtesy of the Oghene Egoh Empowerment Foundation, witnessed the participation of more than 250 widows in the area. They were trained in various skills such as head-tie making, hair-styling, catering, fashion designing, beads, soap and shoe-making, as well as perfume production.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the event, Egoh stated that he was elated to see many widows benefit from the programme, even as he noted that they had suffered the most in the society. He relived with nostalgia how passionate and committed most widows are when it comes to caring for their children and ensuring that they go to school, while comporting themselves in a noble manner. The lawmaker explained that he was motivated to embark on the programme because of the many sufferings and challenges that widows in this clime have to contend with as well as the need to support them to start small-scale business that would enable them to fend for their families.
Egoh, who was represented by his wife, Grace, disclosed that the five-day programme had afforded him the opportunity to interact and gain first-hand knowledge of various problems confronting widows, while assuring them of making the programme a continuous feature. He commended the widows for their zeal and determination to succeed in life, and enjoined them to make good use of whatever they had learnt from the facilitators and start their own small business.
The lawmaker commended the representatives of SMEDAN, Ludge Dynamics and other organisations and individuals who have worked to ensure that widows received sound vocational training, which would equip them with the skills to start their own business ventures.
Highlights of the event included the distribution of cash and business equipment to the participants, who came from various religious backgrounds, ethnic groups and other interest groups in the area. The gesture was to enable them start their business without delay.
Speaking at the ceremony, a beneficiary, Mrs. Johnson, commended the lawmaker for the initiative. She stated that widows in the country were often neglected, abandoned and left with the burden of catering for their children alone soon after the death of their husbands. She expressed the belief that the initiative would serve as succour to the widows in Amuwo-Odofin. She declared that she was determined to make very good use of the new skills she had learned to improve the lot of her family.
Mrs. Johnson expressed the hope that it would go a long way in assisting many widows towards becoming self-employed, while taking care of their families.
Another beneficiary, Mrs. Bamidele, was full of joy and appreciation for the gesture of the lawmaker and promised to utilise the new skills she had gained from the programme to improve her financial status and train her children. She called on other political leaders and wealthy individuals in the country to come to the assistance of widows.
Bamidele painted a gory picture of widowhood in Nigeria, insisting that the government should formulate policies aimed at creating special training centres across the country to enable widows acquire vocational skills that would make them self-reliant and able to fend for their families, just as she made an appeal to corporate bodies and wealthy individuals to come to the aid of widows and vulnerable people and replicate the empowerment programme for widows in their communities.
The programme’s co-ordinator and personal assistant to the lawmaker, Felix Odiase, stated that he was impressed with the quality of the vocational training and the large turnout of participants at the programme. He commended Egoh for his passion for the well-being of his constituents and for the various empowerment programmes initiated and funded by him.
Odiase noted that the lawmaker, since his election to the Federal House of Representatives, had continued to be in close contact with people at the grassroots in his constituency. He disclosed that the lawmaker had various programmes aimed at empowering youths, women, widows, unemployed persons and the less-privileged in the area. He assured the widows of the continuity of the various programmes the legislator has embarked on, as well as the plan of the lawmaker to start other programmes aimed at improving the lives and well-being of the community.
He called on members of the constituency to continue to support Egoh’s initiatives, in order to encourage him to do more.