By Lucy Osuizigbo
Lagos – The Lagos State Government on Friday said it was committed to implementing programmes to alleviate the deprivation, denial of rights, social and economic neglect experienced by vulnerable widows and their children in the state.
The Deputy Governor, Dr Idiat Adebule said this at an Empowerment Seminar for Widows to mark International Widows’ Day, organised by the state ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA), in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that International Widows’ Day was declared by the United Nations in 2011 and is commemorated every June 23 in an effort to empower widows and help them regain their rights, which have long been ignored and violated.
Adebule who was represented by Mrs Yetunde Odejayi, a Permanent Secretary, expressed concern over the plight of widows in the present times, saying they are less than dignifying and with dire economic implications.
“Death, it is often said, is a reality but how humans contend with the fallouts of the unfortunate natural phenomenon is another thing entirely.
“Bereavement is always a period of grief, sorrow, psychological trauma and sometimes despair. How relatives and the society in general react to it, especially in relation to widows and orphans, calls for concerns from all.
“The Lagos state government is committed to continue to explore ways to minimise the hardships of widows and orphans in the state.
“We will continue to protect you and put in place policies and programmes that will benefit you,” she said.
Adebule urged Nigerians to do away with all cultural practices that were detrimental to the welfare of widows and orphans in the country.
She reminded the people that no one knew when he or she would die, hence the need to show sympathy and provide succour to vulnerable widows, instead of adding to their sorrows.
Also, Mrs Adefunmilayo Tejuosho, Chairman of the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on the Judiciary, Human Rights and Public Petitions, urged widows to utilise free legal services provided by the state government to protect their rights and get justice.
“In Lagos state we have the office of the public defender, we also have the citizens mediation gate to help the less privileged such as widows and orphans in our society get speedy legal mediation,” she said.
Tejuosho also called on husbands to write and update their Will periodically since no one knew when he would die.
“The society should welcome and embrace widows, while the government should start educating men to write their wills for their families.
“This is imperative to forestall avoidable hardships for the family left behind in the event of death,” she said.
Dr Omolola Salako, a Consultant, Radiation Oncologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) educated widows on the need to embrace healthy lifestyle to prevent diseases such as cancers.
In her remarks, Dr Lola Akande, Commissioner, WAPA, encouraged the widows to avail themselves of the various opportunities and empowerment programmes provided by the government.
“There are 17 vocational training centers in the state, where you can learn how to start up small businesses such as poultry, fish farming, making of earrings and necklaces, baking, hairdressing and tailoring and many others.
“The training is free of charge. Avail yourself the opportunities to be self dependent and self-reliant,” Akande said.