Mrs Theresa Ibas, National President, Naval Officers’ Wives Association (NOWA) on Wednesday said the association was empowering no fewer than 200 widows and orphans in different skills.
Ibas made the disclosure during her opening remarks at a lecture entitled, “A Day with Widows and Orphans’’, organised by NOWA in Lagos.
Newsmen report that the lecture, with the theme ‘Sailing Against the Tides” was held at the NOWA Skill Aquisition Centre, Navy Town, Lagos.
The auditorium was filled with participants, especially the widows of naval personnel.
According to Ibas, a day out with widows and orphans is a programme which her predecessor, Mrs Vivian Ezeoba, started in 2013.
“Permit me to say that these are difficult times for you the widows and orphans.
“Consequently, we have fashioned out a more enduring and long lasting way to see that you are not only empowered to stand, but also to help others find their footing as well.
“In January this year, the wife of the Vice President of Nigeria, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, catered for the training of 100 Navy widows in Abuja,” she said.
Ibas said the 100 widows were exposed to different kinds of skills.
“Today, to the glory of the Almighty God, NOWA will not only support these participants, but will empower them to enable them put the acquired training to use.
“I make bold to announce that the NOWA skills acquisition centre in Navy Town has kicked off, and about 200 more women are being prepared for training as will be announced later today,” she said.
Ibas implored women to make use of the opportunity of having a skill acquisition centre located within their reach to gain more skills to better their lives.
The special guest of honour, Commissioner, Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alliviation, Mrs Lola Akinde, in her address, appreciated the navy wives for the empowerment.
The commissioner was represented by Mrs Olusola Falana.
“It gives me joy to appreciate the good work that the naval officers are doing to put smiles on the faces of widows and orphans in Lagos state and we as a ministry are happy to associate with you.
“One of the problems facing the women is the issue of widowhood and related challenges in our society.
“These are not God ordained or supported by any scriptures, but created by man through the barbaric culture nurtured by anachronistic tradition to exploit women.
“Today, the widows in our society bear the brunt of economic deprivation, denial of rights, social and economic neglect, disempowerment and lack of access to shelter, health and other basic of life,” she said.
She said it was disheartening that many widows were living below poverty line than any other group in the society, because of denial to their late spouse’s wealth and assets by the husband‘s families.
“Widows and orphans in our society are marginalised, they lack self sufficiency and highly depend on charity for survival.
“In the process, they lose their self confidence because they cannot be fully self supporting.
“The opportunities denied them also deprive them of the pride of accomplishment which others, who have those opportunities, can develop for themselves.
“This in turn can lead to psychological and mental problem, many widows’ rights have been abused through forced marriages, rituals,” she said.
The commissioner said the Lagos State Government had created 17 tuition free skills and vocational training centres.
“The objective is to train women and adults in various skills and vocations for the purpose of economic empowerment and lifting of their status from the state of dependency to self reliance.
“In the same vein, the state is fully committed to the protection, growth and development of women and widows,” she said.
She, therefore, assured everyone that all cases of women abuse that came to the state’s attention would be seen to logical conclusions.
The Commander, Nigerian Navy ship, NNS BEECROFT, Rear Adm. Okon Eyo, who represented the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Ibok-Ete Ibas, and other senior naval officers graced the lecture.