Ifeanyi Okechi, Enugu
There appears to be a glimmer of hope for widows of dead military personnel in Nigeria as the Military Widows Association (MIWA) is poised to better their lot.
Last week, the association in collaboration with the Enugu State Government, and a Non-Governmental Organisation, African Global Development for Positive Initiative (ADI) practically wiped away tears from 90 wives of fallen heroes in Enugu.
National President of MIWA, Mrs. Veronica Aloko recounted what widows and children of departed military personnel pass through in their bid to survive and said they deserved succour.
Speaking at the occasion of the graduation of the 90 military widows from a two-week skill acquisition training programme that spanned confectionaries; bead making, detergents and perfumery; Aloko called on government and international agencies to design sustainable programmes for their members.
She noted that wives of the Army, Navy and Air Force Chiefs had through their various associations supported wives of fallen heroes; but stated that they decided to extend the frontiers.
“We’re going to different states to impart some skills in them to make a living from there; to sustain them and their children; in the process we met the International President of ADI. We started with Benue state, now we’re doing Enugu. To God be the glory that Enugu became very successful with the backing of the Nigerian Legion Chairman. In Enugu, the government was fully represented by the Commissioner for Gender and we thank her, at least now our widows can smile, we can see light at the end of the dark tunnel of life. We thank the state governor, the Anglican Archbishop of Enugu; Bishop Chukwuma took us to the Government House and solicited for help for the widows.
“Our slogan says life after our husbands integrity should be our watch word; to maintain your integrity, you have to be hard working that is why we came to the idea of making them acquire some skills, some of them have to go back to school; we’re calling on even university bodies to give scholarship to the widows, we have widows of 18 years, they should go back to school, we have orphans, we’re calling on international bodies to come to our aid. We teach tailoring but it’s just two weeks, so, one can’t really get anything from tailoring, bead making and agriculture also, we’re seeking for land to cultivate things, like in Benue were we’re acquiring farm so that the widows can start farming and even possibly export,” she said.
The Enugu state Government also promised to continue collaboration with MIWA to ensure better life for military widows. Commissioner for Gender, Princess Peace Nnaji assured that her ministry would brief Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on what was on ground and subsequently work out possible ways of more intervention for military widows in the state.
For the State Chairman of the Nigerian Legion, Emeka Igwesi, the widows would not suffer any more if government and individuals assist them with their needs because it will go a long way in making them stand firm and carter for their families.
He, too, called for special packages for this vulnerable group, harping that it would be meaningless to acquire skills without starter packs and micro credits to beneficiaries of the various training schemes.
He further poured encomiums on the Ugwuanyi-led administration for its unending support and care toward the needs of the widows.
International President of ADI, Prince Dan Mbachi, who said that the programme was in line with one of the goals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) disclosed that they collaborated with the MIWA to put smiles on the faces of the widows at no cost.
One of the beneficiaries, Mrs. Virginia Obrotta, said she would be eternally grateful to the organisers for equipping her with varied skills without paying a dime.
In an interview, she told Daily Sun that they were thought how to make confectioneries, shampoo; bleach and soap just in a space of two weeks, while applauding the government and all involved in the success of the outing.