Two hundred and twenty months ago, about one hundred and eighty young ladies where almost turned homeless, helpless and hopeless as the cruel arms of death gave them a reason to shed tears for the lives of the men they once loved and lost, strong willed mothers where turned into weak widowed women, after an unexpected plane crash took place in Ejigbo, Lagos State. Young intelligent officers (comprising of the Army, Air force and Navy) who had faith in the future of Nigeria and her people were gone even before they could fight for their beliefs. The government in the person of late General Sani Abacha (who gave a speech after the mass burial in October 1992) promised to solve the mystery behind the plane crash and to also compensate the widows and their surviving families individually (based on the terms and conditions of the armed forces) by providing them with their late husband’s pension which is one-third of what their salary was then, he also noted that a scholarship will be given to the children of the deceased for every level of their education till their graduation from the tertiary institution. The government also even went as far as promising to donate free shelter and providing some money for some of the women to start a petty trade just as another means of survival pending when their funds would be sorted.
The promise of the Federal Government to provide houses for the widows in their deceased husbands’ respective states came to pass especially in some states in the south. However, majority of the shelter provided were in poor dilapidated conditions and the federal government failed to redeem it’s promise to help solve the mystery behind the plane crash and it also failed to live up to the provisions as stipulated in the terms and conditions of service (as regards the pension). The widows waited patiently for about nine years for that which the country promised and owed them and when they could not wait any more, they summoned the courage to ask questions but the answers they got was not what they expected, not only did the government fail in fulfilling it’s promise of looking into the cause of the plane crash and solving the puzzle, it also didn’t provide for the widows as promised which worsened their predicament. A panel was set up after the widows took the case to court but it was later dissolved after much efforts by the widows to get the government’s attention proved futile. The grieving widows where insulted, harassed, abused and disgraced. Some of them rallied, and fought with the last penny they had but what kept them going was the wheel of togetherness, the same one their husbands lived and died for tragically. They had a motto and it was what they believed in, they knew that “not giving up on what is right” is the only way justice would be served. In 2005, former President Obasanjo became aware of the case after various media houses took it upon themselves to make a story from the case. He promised to compensate the widows and he also told them to exercise patience whilst discussions were going on with their military leaders. A back log was done and an amount was agreed on for each family. Funds were released to the Military government as promised by the then President but majority of the money which was allocated to the Army was silently lost in transit. It never got to the grieving poor widows because the some certain colleagues of their late husband’s did not think they deserved It anymore.
Today I write this with a painful heart and a weak soul, I wonder what the society would expect from the C-130 children who grew up without a father or from the women who watched in pain as the law deprived them of their rights. Today the 26th day of January, 2011(18 years & 4 months after), I alongside some widows witnessed the height of mans wickedness to his neighbor. The S.A.N (name withheld) who handled the said case in an enclosed meeting with some representatives from the Defense Headquarters and a few widows in attendance, looked at the tired widows who had traveled by road in the eyes blatantly after several hours of “futile arguments” (as he believed) and told them to gladly accept whatever the government offered them now in peace because taking the case any further would be at their loss. It’s such a shame to know that some of our leaders who we are used to seeing spending our hard earned funds on vanity before our Living eyes now have the effrontery to spend the money of Dead fallen heroes! The token that had been fought for with tears and sweat that was allocated to the family of a father who was once your friend, colleague, and brother, the same person you once went to war with trusting him to fight side by side with you till victory was achieved.
These women once had a comfortable bed to lie on, but when they suddenly became widows they lost all hopes of sleep. Their only company was their horrid nightmares, which was a continuous repetition of the last time they saw their late spouse, a scenario of how they all burned and possibility of ever seeing them again. The government which comprises of appointed bodies who we rely on to develop the economy promised to turn their sorrows to joy, questions to answers and they (the government) also promised to provide a pillow for the widows so that the next time they lay their head to rest, they will wake up with a smile on their face. But as we all know, the Widows still don’t have a Pillow.
Posted By: Saddeyya.