By Sumaila Ogbaje
The Defence and Police Officers Wives Association (DEPOWA) on Monday in Abuja graduated 126 beneficiaries of its skills acquisition programme meant to empower barracks women and youths.
The President of DEPOWA, Mrs Vickie Irabor, said the beneficiaries were widows and children of fallen personnel of the armed forces who died while defending the nation.
Irabor said that Nigeria had in the last decade faced major challenges of insecurity and terrorism in which officers and soldiers died while in the defence of the nation.
She said that even though the military had recorded huge success, the war had resulted in the loss of gallant men who had left families behind all over the barracks.
According to her, DEPOWA upgraded its skills acquisition center to respond to the challenge, by empowering widows with different skills and training.
“They were trained in fashion design, catering and hotel management, computer studies make up and gele tying, hairdressing and soap production.
“Thereby giving them a trade to carry on the good work left behind by their breadwinners.
“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 honorable 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,” she said.
Irabor said the graduation was the beginning of hope, expectation for brighter and better future, source of financial liberation and an opportunity for the widows to contribute their quota to the society with dignity.
She urged them to take advantage of the freshness of the skills they had acquired to begin to build, save and invest in their future.
According to her, those who will excel are the ones that are ready to work hard, save money and reinvest in their businesses.
Former DEPOWA President, Mrs Fatima Ogohi, commended the association for sustaining the initiative of empowering women in the barracks.
According to her, the involvement of the military in crisis management requires women to support themselves.
Ogohi said the impact of DEPOWA had gone beyond the barracks, citing examples of the giant stride of military wives in healthcare development in Nigeria.
She commended the current leadership of DEPOWA for the foundation laying of the Armed Forces Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Centre, among other laudable initiatives.
Ogohi urged the trainees to be judicious in utilising the proceeds of their businesses to be able to keep the businesses afloat.
“Do not think that you have reached a certain level or you begin to speculate that you are going to continue to remain like that without putting on the effort and all the advice they have given you during your training session.
“The other one is to make sure you maintain your quality and trust; when you take orders, keep the orders, respect the orders and respect your pledges,” she added.
The Manager, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), FCT, Mrs Mary Kolawole, urged the beneficiaries to maintain the right mindset to be able to become successful entrepreneurs.
Kolawole also tasked them to be result oriented and risk takers, while urging them to immediately put their skills into practice.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the beneficiaries were given starter packs and seed capital to rent shops and start their businesses immediately. (NAN)