The Nigerian Army Day celebration 2021 at the 9 Brigade Command was rounded up on a high note with the distribution of palliatives to widows of fallen heroes still living in the army cantonment in Maryland Lagos. The event which catered to 75 widows was spearheaded by the Nigerian Army Officers Wives Association (NAOWA) 9 Brigade chapter headed by Mrs. Ada Saraso. It was well-attended by army officers within and outside the cantonment. They include Commander, 9 Brigade Command, Brig. Gen MLD Saraso; Director Nigeria Army Archives, Ikeja Military Cantonment, Brig Gen Muhammad .A. Uba; Wives of Brig. Gen. MA Buba, Maj. Gen. Eze, Brig. Gen. Olajide, Brig. Gen. Olatoye, among others.
Speaking at the distribution event, the Brigade Commander, 9 Brigade Command, Brig. Gen. MLD Saraso noted: ‘We are not unaware that we have many widows of our departed colleagues who might have relocated out of the cantonment to reintegrate with the larger society. We identify with you, we know that you are still having the pains of loss but we are happy that you are forging ahead. We are also aware of widows of soldiers who are not resident in this cantonment but are one way or the other part of the cantonment either by worshipping in any of the 3 major places of worship, for business purpose, in Mammy Market, Arena market, teaching in our Command schools, or working in our hospitals and other places. We empathise with you.’
‘Nevertheless, there must always be a beginning to every activity in life, it is our desire that if we could afford it, we would have made this initiative to cover all our widows in Lagos but we are constrained by resources. We know our efforts may be like a drop in the ocean but it is better than never. Because for every life we touch with this, we have added value and the ripple effect can only be imagined. I say so with all sense of humility that I have passion and compassion for widows.’
Oki Samson noted the emotional story of the Brigade Commander who is a product of a widow. Brig. Gen. Saraso remarked: ‘This is because of my background. I happen to be a product of a widow so I know how the life of a widow typically is. It is not a title that anybody will willingly acquire. It is a condition that is imposed on an individual. We will continue to identify with you in our little ways while also saying that you please permit and tolerate our inadequacies in the organization of an event like this as we seek to continue to improve. And we pray that God will give us more capacity to do more than we are presently doing.’
‘All deaths are equal. All pains of such occurrence are equally felt by those concerned. It is not our prayer that we will continue to have widows in our midst. Those of us still privileged to have our spouses with us should have it in mind that there are people out there due to no fault of theirs have found themselves in the position they are today.
We will continue to encourage NAOWA to continue to drive this initiative. There are individuals and organizations that may have packages for those we could not reach either by administrative lapses or human error that we will reach you when their package comes’, he concluded.
On her part, the Chairperson of NAOWA and wife of Brigade Commander of 9 Brigade Army Command, Mrs. Ada Saraso said: ‘I am happy to celebrate the Nigerian Army Day celebration 2021 which is the 158th anniversary. The celebration seeks to honour and celebrate our fallen heroes who paid the supreme price for the unity and existence of Nigeria. Not also forgetting their families and those still serving the nation.’
‘This distribution programme is a yearly programme which is done by the Nigerian Army to commiserate with widows of the fallen heroes. We make them know they are not forgotten. We bring them together. We make them know they are still with us though their husbands are not here. And we give palliatives to them. I want to tell them that the death of their husband is not the end of the world. They can do so much, they should be courageous, have faith in God and God Who is the Husband of all widows will see them through by His special grace. We get finances from within the brigade and friends within the cantonment.’
‘We were able to cater for 75 widows currently living in the army cantonment this year. Those who benefitted from the palliatives today got 25kg of rice, a litre of oil, a pack of seasoning cube, a pack of salt, 2 cartons of noodles, turkey/chicken, and N10,000 each.’
‘I appreciate our National President and wife of Chief of Army Staff, Mrs. Salimotu Yahaya, the wife of our GOC 81 Division, Mrs. Maureen Fejokwu, commanders in the 9 Brigade command, members of NAOWA in the 9 Brigade chapter that have contributed in one way or the other to the success of today. We thank you for what you do, what you are going to do.’
Sharing with NAOSNP President, Oki Samson, one of the beneficiaries who simply wanted to be identified as Maryam said: ‘I lost my husband in January 2020. I have 4 children. It has not been very easy without the assistance of good people. God has not left us alone. I thank everyone that has provided this package for us. Their pocket will never run dry.’
Another widow, Mrs. Isiaka who lost her husband in 2018 on the warfront fighting Boko Haram said: ‘I have 3 children. We get help from here and there. I work as a cleaner in the mart.’
Mrs. Basirat Adewale who now works with LAWMA gave the vote of thanks on behalf of all the widows in the barracks.