The O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation in partnership with the African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA) Rivers State has released a toll-free number for the assistance of widows in the State.
The release of the toll-free number 0800-0023-111 was made during a special Webinar to commemorate this year’s International Widow’s Day. The event, organized by the Rivers State Chapter of the African Women Association in partnership with the O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation was chaired by Hon. Justice Margaret Opara of the Nigerian Court of Appeal and drew participation from the judicial and civil society community beyond Nigeria.
Panellists at the webinar included Dr. Mandy Asagba, the International President of AWLA, Mrs. Cordelia Eke, the Chairlady of AWLA Rivers State, Mrs. Chinwe Ezenwa, Dr. Camelita Agborubere, Mr. Nnamdi Omoni, PPRO of the Nigeria Police, Rivers State Command, I. B. Tariah among others.
Speaking during the event, Dr. Mrs. Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs, the Chairman Board of Trustees of the O. B. Lulu-Briggs, noted that this year’s theme for the International Widows’ Day, “Invisible Women, Invisible Problems” conveyed the fact that the deplorable plights widows faced when their husbands die remained obscure in development circles. She said the United Nations recognized that widows across the world were often ‘invisible’ to policymakers when they draw up and execute policies and are “‘Invisible’ to researchers when they carry out studies on poverty. ‘Invisible’ to community members when ‘culture and patriarchy’ dictate behavior. ‘Invisible’ in families where they lose their status as soon as their husbands die,” she said.
Adding that “try as we may, to make widows ‘invisible’, they are very much a part of our communities. Widows are definitely not invisible to the O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation. It is for this reason that, in partnership with the African Women Lawyers Association, Rivers State, we are hosting a webinar on ‘Today’s Widow, the Way Forward.’ This, to me, underscores the need for action rather than laborious postulations in addressing the problems and challenges that widows in Nigeria face. For me – and millions of women around the world – this is not a mere academic exercise.”
Recounting the horror of her experience as a widow, she said ‘It is now a matter of public record that since my beloved husband, High Chief (Dr) O. B. Lulu-Briggs passed away in Accra, Ghana on December 27, 2018, I have been at the receiving end of the most calculated, scurrilous and heartrending assault. A major – and ongoing – propaganda campaign was launched to besmirch me. I have been subjected to the most gruelling false accusations and attacks which were unleashed to break my spirit and strip me of my rights because my traducers felt that I, as a woman and a widow, should neither be seen nor heard.”
She said in spite of her personal visibility and appreciable support structures, she was subjected to such a harrowing experience and wondered what could be the fate of other widows who may not be that fortunate.
According to her, “Our partnership with AWLA among others, already offers free legal services, material support and scholarships to indigent widows in Rivers State, including widows of fallen heroes of the Nigerian Army. I believe creating change in the lives of embattled Widows requires multilateral Institutional efforts. To this end, I am happy to announce that from today a Rivers State Widows Legal Assistance toll-free 24/7 hotline number 0800-0023-111 is open for widows to reach out for help.”
Participants and panellists at the webinar jointly condemned harmful widowhood practices both within Rivers State and across Africa. They made the commitment to continue to champion the rights of widows and protect them from all forms of discrimination on account of their being widows.