The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya, has pledged continuous support for the Defence and Police Officers Wives Association (DEPOWA), as the association graduates 63 beneficiaries from its skill acquisition centre.
Yahaya made the pledge in Abuja on Thursday at the graduation ceremony of the 11th batch of beneficiaries of DEPOWA’s empowerment programme where they got starter packs and cash.
He commended the efforts of the association in supporting the widows and orphans of the fallen personnel, adding that the effort was in line with the resolve of the Nigerian Army to prioritise personnel’s welfare.
The COAS said the Nigerian Army and all other services had continued to pay serious attention to prompt payment of emoluments of the deceased personnel as well as sponsorship of their children up to the university level.
He disclosed that the group life insurance that hitherto encountered some challenges had resumed after the short gap, saying it is currently being handled seamlessly.
He commended the effort of the association for the initiative to have the beneficiaries trained and empowered.
He also announced a donation of N100,000 for each of the beneficiaries in addition to the starter packs and cash from DEPOWA.
Yahaya urged the beneficiaries to be prudent, consistent and determined towards utilising the resources at their disposal.
Former Nigerian First Lady, Mrs Marian Abacha, commended the association’s leadership for sustaining its objectives by supporting and empowering the needy within the military community.
Mrs Abacha urged the spouses of the military personnel to continue supporting one another by alleviating the suffering of the less-privileged among them.
The president of DEPOWA, Mrs Vickie Irabor, said that DEPOWA would continue to be a vessel that supports and uplifts the good work of their husbands in the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Mrs Irabor said the nation had faced major challenges of insecurity and terrorism in the last decade where soldiers and officers had answered the call to defend the land.
“We have lost gallant men, fathers, brothers who in the course of duty, have left families behind all over our barracks.
“DEPOWA has taken it up as a challenge to address the elephant in our community, by upgrading the DEPOWA Skills Acquisition Centre (DSAC) to empower widows with different skills and trainings, thereby giving them a trade to carry on the good work left behind by their bread winners.
“Today we are graduating a diverse group of women who have experienced real pain and have come out stronger.
“The life of a loved one cut short in honourable service to the nation can never be erased from memory.
“These are women that have risen to the duty of training their children, fending for households and supporting extended families.
“They have jumped through hoops, bent backwards and gone the extra mile to be here and at this time, truly it has not been easy getting to this point,” she said.
Mrs Irabor said the training was expected to be a source of financial liberation and opportunity for the widows to also contribute their quotas to the society with dignity of labour.
She urged them to take advantage of their skills and begin to build, save and invest.
“Those who will excel are the ones that are ready to work hard, save money and re-invest in their businesses.
“You have been trained not only in skill but how to manage a business, do not let it go to waste.
“We have also given you the advantage by providing starter kits, one year rent and stipends all through the duration of your training.
“So you must work hard for that advantage to yield into profit.
“I urge you to always look for positive opportunity to promote, market and build your business,” she added.
A beneficiary, Mrs Rita Adeniran, who spoke on behalf of others expressed appreciation for the knowledge from the centre.
Adeniran said that DEPOWA had over the years helped many widows to become self-reliant thereby reducing the rate of unemployment.
She thanked Mrs Irabor for helping them to become professionals in their vocations and providing them with starter packs. (NAN