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Canadian High Commissioner parleys with women in Lagos community

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…As Itedo widows lament the poor state of health, road others

By Ebunoluwa Sessou

Widows in Itedo, a suburb in Lagos have called on the Lagos State Government to address what they described as a poor state of health, bad roads and unfavourable environment.

While narrating their plights to WO, the women said that their inability to access good health care has subjected them to health challenges including rheumatism, malaria attacks among others.

They took turns to express their plights on the state of the environment, road inaccessibility and non-availability of healthcare facilities among others.

With their encounter with the Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria; Ambassador Nicholas Simard who paid a familiarization visit to them recently, they were optimistic that their burdens will be lifted.

Also read: Edo: CSOs protest, petition British High Commissioner over heightening violence

Itedo Community is in the Ikate area of Lekki/Ajah Expressway, Lagos and it is one of the communities that are striving in terms of urban development. Unfortunately, there is no presence of a State Government health centre let alone a general hospital for women as well as the children to access.

The women in their different cultures, tribes thronged the popular Community Church in Itedo, their regular meeting point organized by a non-governmental organisation, Centre for Gender Economic Initiative, CGE Africa, led by its Executive Director, Uchenna Idoko.

Lamenting her plight, a-59-year old, Victoria Harrison, called on all relevant authorities to intervene in the area of road accessibility.

According to her, “During the rainy season, the state of the environment is always pathetic. Most of us are always trapped in the community.

“Most women suffer from rheumatism. You will hardly find an aged woman who is not having this challenge and that is why we are calling on the government to assist in the area of health care services for regular medical checkup.

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“We have been tutored on why we need to do daily routine exercises by the NGO and we are calling on other well-meaning Nigerians to come to our aid.

Most women are widows

In her reaction, Margret Harrison explained that most women in the Itedo community are widows. “My husband died in 2019 and since then, I have been taking care of my children. Our road is bad. We need good and accessible roads.

Catfish business

“We have hard-working women in this community and we survive on our daily income. For me, I am doing my small business and that is what I am living on. I supply Catfish to people in Lekki”, she said.

Mrs Harrison noted that the Itedo community is peaceful and that rape cases do not exist.

For Fakansi Ogundeji, government support is germane. “We are vulnerable and the only way our problem could be addressed is for the government and well-meaning Nigerians to assist us.

COVID-19 and women

Speaking on COVID-19 pandemic, Temasa Harrison, another widow insists that, “there is a need for deliberate attention by all stakeholders to take responsibility by adhering to all rules guiding the pandemic.

“Right now, the second wave is in Nigeria and if care is not taken, most people might contract it. And that is why we have taken it upon ourselves to adhere to all protocols in order not to contract it. There is no hospital in the Itedo community and that is one challenge for us as women. Most of us are negatively affected and our wives and children are also vulnerable as well”, she lamented.

Speaking with WO, Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria; Ambassador Nicholas Simard, said, he was impressed with the warm welcome by the widows in Itedo.

“My visit was to familiarize with elderly women who are benefiting from ActionAid initiative to ensure economic inclusion and I believe especially this period of COVID-19, it is very important to support women including elderly women to make sure that they have access to training and capacity building to be able to contribute to their community and by extension build the economy of the country.

“This will also serve as an empowerment capacity for the women and their children so as to be in a better position as we come out of COVID-19.

“Unfortunately the situation with vulnerable women is pathetic because they have been dying before COVID-19 and with this crisis; it has brought about more economic disparity.

“I think the Nigerian authorities at different levels need to do what they can to make sure that this woman can access health care services and other necessary amenities to be able to contribute to the economy of the country.

“I understand COVID-19 can be very threatening and there is more risk in keeping quiet if anyone has contracted it. It is very important to retract, seek support and participate in community programmes”, he said.

On her part, the Executive Director, CGE, Uchenna Idoko, said, the project was selected for inspection by the Canadian High Commissioner to tell their stories.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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