The Ondo State government has disbursed N16 million revolving loans to 86 windows of fallen heroes in the state.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu announced this during the 2023 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration yesterday at the Cenotaph at Alagbaka in Akure, the state capital.
Akeredolu, who was represented by Deputy Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa, said the loans were disbursed through the state’s Micro Credit Revolving Interest-Free Loans scheme.
The governor said the gesture was meant to assist the widows of the fallen heroes to be less dependent on the society for survival.
He also announced the donation of N2.5 million to the Nigerian Legion through an emblem appeal fund, besides other donations by individuals.
Akeredolu added that members of the State Executive Council (Exco) and the state civil servants had donated N1 million and N4 million respectively to the Nigerian Legion as part of appreciation for their service to the nation.
The governor, who said the nation would forever be indebted to the men that laid their lives for the country, said the gesture would spur those still living to ensure that their services would not be forgotten.
“Today’s ceremony will only be meaningful, valuable and of great justice when it is backed up with our support, financially and materially, to the Legionnaires and the well-being of the widows and dependents of these patriotic heroes.
“Today’s celebration, which is the final parade, laying of wreaths and empowerment of the widows of the departed heroes, is always symbolic in memory of our fallen heroes.
“All over the world, every society has a unique culture and ways through which they honour their heroes.
“The parade/laying of wreaths is, therefore, part of our own culture of honouring our heroes in Nigeria.
“Our efforts in this direction will continue under this scheme and other packages. This gesture will go a long way to energise the serving officers to continually give their best in the service to their fatherland.
“I want to encourage all of us to complement government’s efforts by donating generously towards the well-being of the Legionnaires and by employing the services of those who are still fit in productive duties.
“This is the least way of showing our gratitude to the fallen heroes,” he said.
One of the beneficiaries, Mrs. Victoria Adekunle, said: “This is my third time of benefiting from the loan.”
She hailed the state government for always standing by the widows whenever the need arises.
Another beneficiary, Caroline Faposi, who expressed appreciation to the state government for the loan, said she had been progressing since she got the loan.
Also, the Lagos State government has promised its continued support to the widows and families of military personnel who died in active duty.
Deputy Governor Obafemi Hamzat, who represented Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, spoke at the Nigerian Armed Forces Remembrance Day, which held yesterday at Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos.
Hamzat lauded the efforts of the military in protecting the nation’s integrity, saying without their efforts the country would not achieve much.
He said: “Lagos as a state has always and will continue to support the military and all the paramilitary agencies responsible for maintaining our security. At the same time, we remember the souls of those who departed while defending the territorial integrity of our country.
“May their souls continue to rest in peace, and we pray that God grants their families the fortitude to bear the loss.”
Hamzat said the government was in touch with widows of the fallen heroes, and finding ways to meet their needs and ameliorate their sufferings.
“We talk to the widows individually because each family has different needs. People’s needs are not meant to be made public. We have been supporting them and we will continue to support them,” he added.
The General Officer Commanding (GOC) 81 Division, Maj.-Gen. Obinna Ajunwa, assured the widows that the governor and the Armed Forces would continue to support them and their families.
Representative of the fallen heroes’ wives in Lagos State, Mrs. Oyinlola Shobowale, said what they needed most was sponsorship of their children’s education to the university level.
“The government recently sent a message to us that they would start calling us from January 17 to Abuja, to help with children’s education up to university level. This will go a long way because we do not have any assistance from anywhere.
“Most of us have lost our breadwinners and since the government had promised to help us, they should ensure to follow through with their promise,” she said.
Oyinlola is the wife of the late Sergeant Temidayo Shobowale who died in 2021 in Yobe State.