“I lost my father in 2004, then I was about to graduate from Edo state University Ekpoma. my father was a commercial driver who owned his own bus and was able to pay for my school fees conveniently. Then shortly after his death as a result of protracted illness,  my mum who was just a petty trader struggled to ensure I didn’t dropped out of school,being a first child of four children. Life wasn’t easy after his death, I went for my NYSC and was posted to a secondary school. None of my younger siblings could seek admission into the higher institution due to financial constraints until I got employed five years after graduation through which I took up the educational responsibility of my immediate younger brother; thank God he is a male and with child spacing habit of my parents, I am four years older than him, so he wasn’t much affected like myself”.

The above narration was that of a 37-year old woman in Akure, Mrs. Kikelomo Adewale who registered her mother for the Ondowidows’care programme of the wife of Ondo State Governor, Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu. Upon the receipt of the palliatives for her 65years old mother which was distributed to widows across the 18 Local Government areas of the state under the initiative, Mrs Adewale reacted that since the demise of her father, her mother had never received such from either government or individuals being a widow.

According to her, her father’s family even abandoned them accusing her mother of killing their son and seized the house he built in their hometown.

Also narrating her experience as a fatherless, 30 years old Aina Fagbotemi said she was 16years when her father died and was in SS2. “We are seven in number, I’m the fifth, only our first born had finished NCE and was working with a private school in Ondo, my immediate elder sister just wrote a Polytechnic JAMB exam and got admitted exactly a month when our father died. It was then that my elderly ones thought of it for the first time that assuming our parents did family planning, it would have been easy a little bit for our mother to sponsor us alone. But mom faced the challenge with prayer and God stood by us. No one helped us, my father’s only sibling tried her little best but extended family didn’t contribute a dime to our welfare, surprisingly they are now striving to make friends with us seeing that we all graduated and are working”.

These are a few of so many instances in our society. The lack of data has closed the eyes of Government, corporate bodies and individuals to the fact that our environment is filled with widows struggling to cater for three, five, seven children.

With the unveiling of the Ondowidows’care website which Mrs Akeredolu launched in May 2020, it has revealed that Ondo State has about 23,000 widows. Either they are all widows indeed or not, the fact remains that so many women are solely responsible for the upbringing of children in our society which really calls for concern in order to beat down the level of poverty and untrained children.

The database shows that about 10% are employed, 10% pensioners while about 41% are self-employed and 39% are unemployed. 10,000 are traders, 8,000 into agriculture, below 1,000 are professional, little above 1,000 are into skilled labour while about 1,000 fall into unskilled labour category.

When Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu launched the initiative, she said with the database, it became easy for the State Government to plan for her widows. According to her, the database would help both Local and International researchers in the nearest future.

Story credit: Mary Agidi