Gift Emmanuel, Abuja
AS Nigeria joined the world in marking the 4th International Widows Day (IWD), Federal Government has been urged to consider the plight of widows in the country and to initiate programmes/projects that are aimed at ameliorating their plights.
This is even as a Non-Governmental Organisation, Rock of Ages Empowerment Foundation (RAEF), gave out over N7million to 276 widows in FCT.
The Founder of the Foundation, Evangelist Ignatius Newman Ezeigbo while speaking at the IWD celebration in Abuja, urged the Federal Government to enact policies and programmes that will take care of the overall welfare of widows and other vulnerable groups in the society.
According to him, “There should be enlightenment programmes on issues relating to the widows’ health, as most of these women die of diseases that could have been averted assuming that those diseases were detected early. The federal ministry of health should take up the primary health care services to where these women can have easy access to them at a highly subsidised rate.
“The Federal Government should as well set up skill acquisition centres where these women would undergo various training with a view to making them self-reliant.
Government should equally ensure that these programmes/services actually get to the targeted audience (the very poor)”.
The foundation which marked the day with over 1200 widows in attendance gave out 140 units of sewing machines to 140 widows and another set of 136 widows received N20, 000. 00 cash each to start small scale catering services and also distributed over 1200 bags of rice to them.
The widows who gathered at the main auditorium of the National Centre for Women Development as early as 7:am received free medical treatments provided by the foundation.
Evangelist Newman Ezeigbo said the foundation is planning to provide housing units to accommodate some of these widows who have no place to call their own and also to build skill acquisition cum training centre where they could be trained for various skill acquisitions.
He said before now, the Foundation had been sponsoring some of these widow’s children in various government (primary & secondary) schools on a relatively small scale but as part of their future plans, the Foundation has resolved to continue with the same on a larger scale adding that the mode of operation will be made clear to the widows during their monthly meetings.
In his words, “Our reasons for taking up these widows’ children education are to ameliorate the burden on these women and to ensure that the children are not deprived of their fundamental rights to education.
“There should be concerted efforts in this regards as it is obvious that government cannot do it all alone. Nigerians should join hands in ensuring that these women are given their place in the society”.
On her part, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Zainab Maina commended Rock of Ages Empowerment Foundation who took it upon themselves to recognise and celebrate the widows whom she said are an integral part of every society yet, “little is known about them and the challenges they face”.
The Minister regretted that “The widows are seldom captured in statistics, unnoticed by researchers, often neglected by laws and development strategies making their situation invisible.
“What the foundation is doing today is so remarkable, especially in this era when the population of widows is steadily increasing as a result of the recent spate of terror attacks unleashed on the society by some violent groups in various parts of the country.
These women have seen most of their husbands lose their lives and at times their children. These ugly incidents have forced women to cater for themselves and their children lone; sometimes without the appropriate knowledge and skills needed to take over the role that faith has bestowed on them.
“It is pertinent to point out that such events as this have potentials of not just recognising and bringing to limelight the challenges these women pass through, but also to identify, sensitize, train and empower them in order to enhance their income”.