Widow groups across the 18 local government areas of Cross River state have celebrated the state governor for his magnanimity and benevolence to widows in the state over the past three years.
The widows who were led by their respective leaders in different groups from the eighteen local government areas of the state congregated at the cross river state ministry of women affairs to jointly express their appreciation to the governor for his concern over the years and for always prioritizing their concerns.
The women particularly thanked the governor of the state for backing the widow a deceased member of the state house of assembly representing Obudu state constituency, Abbey Ukpukpen to succeed her husband Stephen Ukpukpen as a representative in the assembly.
Besides this, the widows expressed appreciation to the governor for creating employment opportunities for hundreds of widows through the garment factory as well as the recent appointment of a special assistant on widows’ affairs to have firsthand information of the needs and concerns of the widows.
Speaking during the ceremony at the state ministry of women and social affairs at her office, the state commissioner for women affairs, Stella Odey stated that the widows in the state are highly appreciative of the efforts the governor has put in place to better their lot and pledged their continued support to the administration.
“We are over 8, 000 widows in cross river state and we have come to say a very big thank you to the governor for a number of things particularly for having brought up a widow to take over from her deceased husband in the state house of assembly, Hon. Stephen Ukpukpen.
“Hon. Ukpukpen passed on suddenly and it was heartbreaking for cross Riverians. The governor has a way of wiping out tears from the eyes of widows and asked that Abbey Ukpukpen come up and run for her husband’s position and fill the remaining months so as to enable her fend for her children in the absence of her husband.
“We, on behalf of the entire widows of Cross River State have come to say thank you to the governor. Furthermore, when he came up as governor he came up quietly to implement the garment factory where the widows are earning a living.
“He believes in teaching them to fish rather than giving them fish and at the factory, 98% of the staff there are women, especially widows. In situations where the widows could not leave their respective localities to come and work in the factory, he decided that their children should come and work”, she said.
She also commended the governor for appointing a special assistant on widows in order to get to know more about their needs and advised other leaders to borrow a leaf from the governor and create a shoulder for vulnerable members of the society to lean on.
She said: “He has appointed a special assistant on widows who has never happened before. This is aimed at continuously looking at the plight of widows and through the personal assistant; he will know how the widows are faring.
“He is indeed the Messiah, father and husband of all widows in Cross River State. We want to enjoin all leaders to borrow a leaf from the governor and ensure that in whatever they are doing in their leadership position, they should always add a human face to it.
“They should always remember to create a broad shoulder for widows and women to lean on because the governor has done this and created a wonderful example for all leaders to emulate”, the commissioner said.
Also speaking, the president of widows in the state Elder Grace Otu commended the governor for his concerns for the widows in the state.
According to her, “we are here to say a big thank you to the governor. The garment factory has accommodated quite a number of us and those of us that are not there, our children are working there.
“We also commend him for thinking it wise to support a widow to take her husband’s place in the state house of assembly besides appointing a widow as special assistant on women affairs which means he wants our colleague to be by him and give him information”.
She said the group has over 8, 000 widows presently and more are joining them because our men are dying by the day and increasing the number of widows in the state and prayed for God’s guidance on the governor.
On her part, the special assistant to the governor on widows affairs, Imelda Asikpo also commended the governor for his concerns for widows in the state and said the governor will be better informed about the plight of widows in the state through her office.
She said the governor is widow friendly and has a lot in store for widows in the state and assured them of the governor’s continued support.