As Nigeria marks the 2023 Armed Forces Remembrance Day today widows of fallen soldiers have appealed to the federal government and well-meaning Nigerians to address the issues that affect their welfare.
The Armed Forces Remembrance Day is set aside every year to celebrate serving men of the armed forces and remember those who died in the line of duty.
Some of the widows who spoke to Daily Trust on Sunday said they had been going through hardship since they lost their breadwinners.
Mrs Esther Augustine Ogedengbe, one of the widows, told Daily Trust on Sunday that life had not been the same since she lost her husband.
Mrs Ogedengbe, a mother of two who lost her husband in 2015, narrated how being the breadwinner hadn’t been easy with little or no assistance from the government or elsewhere.
She said, “Widows here are really suffering; all widows. If you don’t come close to people you will not know what people are really passing through.”
Recounting the memories that come with the Armed Forces Remembrance Day, Mrs Ogbedengbe said that for most of the years she stayed in the barracks after being widowed only few of the commanders made them (widows) feel special with gifts and other moral support.
Another widow, Mrs Linda Gabriel, said that her late husband called her a night before he paid the supreme price.
She said, “That day I fainted because my husband was my everything. I don’t have a mother, I don’t have a father. My two girls are still in primary school; life has not been easy, but I thank God.”
Also speaking, Mrs Tabitha John said her husband died after a protracted ailment in 2022, leaving six kids for her to fend for, adding that she was yet to access her husband’s benefits.
Mrs Lami Ajang, a mother of three, said she was yet to receive all her late husband’s entitlements, noting that, “They have paid me some money, but they have not paid all.”
Relating to the plight of the widows, Major General Cecil Esekhaigbe (Rtd), Chairman of the Centre for Wounded Service Heroes Fund, acknowledged the efforts of the government in trying to provide succour for dependents of fallen heroes.
He said, “The government has been doing its best, but you know, we have an economy that has competing needs. There are so many other sectors competing for the government’s attention.”
He added that the military had a good system of looking after families of soldiers that were dead or away through laudable welfare schemes, but noted that “this might not be enough but a reminder that they are not forgotten.”
Gen Esekhaigbe, therefore, encouraged the widows not to lose faith, but be consoled that their husbands died for the unity of the country, reminding them that the government would not forget them.
How Nigeria’s lost soul can be restored – Wounded soldiers
Meanwhile, a cross section of wounded servicemen have said that the lost soul of Nigeria could be restored if all Nigerians worked together regardless of political parties with support for the security agencies in order to eliminate all forms of insecurity in the country.
They noted that Nigeria would emerge stronger soon, adding that the resilient belief in the promise of tomorrow was embodied in thousands of years of Nigerian history.
Speaking through their Chairman, Board of Trustees, Gen Esekhaigbe, they explained that there was the need to salute the courage and resilience of frontline security personnel and the service chiefs, as well as other heads of security agencies, for their efforts to restore normalcy.
Gen Esekhaigbe said, “Our prayers are with you, and we will continue to do everything we can to support all the wounded servicemen and families of the fallen heroes and whatever it takes, we are going to be there as one nation and one Nigeria, we are not going to breakaway.
“We can do big things as a country when we work together, regardless of our political parties, to support the security agencies to eliminate all forms of insecurities. There is a lot more we can do, but we have to do it together to restore the soul of Nigerians.
“I reaffirmed that the Centre is unshakably committed to the Armed forces, the wounded servicemen and families of the fallen heroes, Nigeria will emerge stronger, that resilient belief in the promise of tomorrow is embodied in thousands of years of Nigerians history.”