By Willie Workman Oga
In Nigeria recently, the Kano State Government reportedly conducted mass wedding ceremonies for 1,000 widows in the state, as a way of alleviating their plight in the state and by extension in the country.
The number of widows in Nigeria is rapidly increasing. And this is caused by some avoidable factors.
Actually the high level of insecurity in the country has left many a woman to become widows prematurely. In the last three or more years, the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram sect in the northern part of the country has produced more widows than could be imagined. Most of the law enforcement personnel on routine assignments have been killed, while places of worships are destroyed by suicide bombers, causing numerous deaths, leaving many women as widows. In fact, over 4,000 people have been killed by the sect in a short period.
Also in Plateau state area lingering communal clashes have generated many widows.
The southern part of the country has not been spared. For instance, in the Niger Delta region, agitation for resource control by the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta region (MEND) brought untold hardship, and many men were killed, thus adding to the number of widows in the area and the country at large.
The activities of armed bandits, and kidnappers have also led to untimely death of many fathers.
Increasing widowhood has its negative effects on the victims and the country. For instance, the immediate effect is the untold hardship the widows are exposed to due to untimely death of their husbands, the family bread winners. Considering the fact that most of these less privildged widows do not have sustainable source of income, they are unable to cater for their children, which may result in these children dropping out of schools, and eventually becoming vagabonds in the society. This on the long run may lead to further insecurity in the society, as they become bandits and pick up arms against the society.
Though the federal government has signified its readiness to dialogue with the Islamic Boko Haram sect, as a way of ending the carnage in the northern part of the country, it is not yet very clear if dialogue will have the desired result as the sect refused the amnesty offer, but efforts are still in top gear to reach out to the sect.
To aggressively step down insecurity in the country, I believe the onus is on the government to massively destroy the root of corruption and greed in the country, and should not play politics with this ugly monster ravaging the fabric of the society. We should bear in mind that the lapses of our past leaders in curbing corruption at all cost has brought about the current insecurity in Nigeria. You cannot plant ginger and expect to harvest mango. That which you plant, you shall harvest. So it behooves on our current crop of leadership to direct their efforts at sanitizing the government machinery, provide needed infrastructure for development to thrive, thereby creating job opportunities, also social insurance scheme should be introduced for widows and their dependants, increase the awareness of religious tolerance amongst Nigerians in general. All these are part of those measures that would create a peaceful atmosphere in Nigeria. If we fail as a nation now on these, the future may be worse for the country and her citizens.
At Advocacy for Widows’ Empowerment Foundation (ADWEF), we believe that insecurity in the country should as a matter of urgency be curbed if not totally eradicated by the government, so as to bring succor to the teeming Nigerian women. Also all other communal rivalries should be resolved quickly to pave the way for development, and the reduction in widowhood in the country.
Our vision is to see the total liberation of widows from the ugly norms of deprivation of their inheritance and abuse of their human rights to a place where they are encouraged, and nurtured to discover and utilize their hidden entrepreneurial skills.
Our mission as an NGO is geared towards exploring the necessary mediums of advocacy to protect and uplift the dignity of widows.