Katsina First Lady Empowering Widows, Orphans

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Saturday VINTAGE 

Francis Sardauna chronicles the strides of the Katsina State Governor’s Wife, Hajiya Zakiyya Aminu Masari in ameliorating the suffering of widows and orphans in the state

Empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is essential to build stronger economies, achieve internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, as well as improve the quality of life for women, men, families and communities. 

Empowerment therefore entails encouraging and developing the skills for self-sufficiency with a focus on eliminating the future need for charity or welfare among the individuals of the group. This process can be difficult to start but can as well be implemented effectively. 

In Nigeria a woman’s social status is inextricably linked to her husband’s. When her husband dies, her place in society is at risk. Many widows around the country share two common experiences: a loss of social status and reduced economic circumstances.

The state of widowhood is worsened by situations of poverty and lack of access to services and resources. Widows across the country, irrespective of ethnic groups, religious or political affiliations are among the most vulnerable and destitute women. 

They suffer from illnesses, diseases, loss of property and a significant decline in social status. The experience of widows in Nigeria especially in the North, most times, is better imagined than experienced.

 This is due to the level of illiteracy, some cultural practices and abject poverty as most widows are compelled against their will and rights into certain inhumane acts as required by certain cultures or to prove their innocence over the death of their husbands.

Sometimes, they are denied access to their late husband’s property and, at times, even their own children. The plight of the less privileged and widows, especially in Katsina State have been of great concern to many well-meaning Nigerians.

 The Wife of the State Governor Hajiya Zakiyya Aminu Masari is one of such persons, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Women, Youth and Children Improvement Support Initiative, WYCISI, based in Katsina, the state’s capital.

 This woman of highly impeccable character has demonstrated that it helps to help. The non-governmental organisation over the years has been committed to elevating of the lives of the less privileged, widows and orphans by putting smiles on their faces through quarterly clothing of over 10,000 widows.

 Such gestures includes provision of skills acquisition, training for the less privileged women, youth and children, offering of grant, provision of bursary and scholarship to girls, mostly orphans within Daura senatorial zone of the state.

 Mrs. Masari through her pet project has been able to train and empower over 15,000 widows, orphans and the less privileged as part of effort to complement the unflinching and tremendous efforts of her husband (Masari) in actualising the restoration agenda of his administration.

 The “Uwar Marayu” as she is fondly called by those who are familiar with her humanitarian services, embarked on different  levels of empowerment where she dished out gift items to include wrappers and cash to widows and the less privileged of Daura extraction during a colourful and well-attended event in the area.

In an effort to further ameliorate the plight of the vulnerable in the State, Hajiya Zakiyya has of recent, donated assorted food and households items and clothes to over 600 women, widows and orphans in Dutsi Local Government Area of the state. 

Presenting the items to the beneficiaries during the programme which was held at Dutsi local government secretariat, she lamented that many women in the country had been abandoned to their fate and were struggling to make ends meet, hence the donation.

 She added that the gesture would help solve the immediate needs of the most vulnerable people in the area and compliment state and federal government’s efforts in improving the socio-economic and well-being of the citizenry.

 Mrs. Masari, therefore, called on well-meaning individuals and donor agencies in the country to provide similar assistance to people in their respective communities in order to reduce hardship among rural dwellers and less privileged.

 According to her, “My pet project is initiated to bring women and children out of poverty. We have done well in the areas of women empowerment, provision of drugs to hospitals, scholarship, political mobilisation of women and youths and we shall continue to do more”.

 She explained that the disbursement of the assorted food items and clothes were done through her pet project; Women, Youth and Children Improvement Support Initiative in synergy with Excellent Leadership for Sustainable Development and Good Governance.

In his remarks at the event, Governor Aminu Masari represented by the Permanent Secretary for Sustainable Development Agency, Hajiya Fatima Kankia, said state government in collaboration with Dangote foundation would soon commence the disbursement of N10,000 each to women in Dusti local government. 

 While lauding donor agencies and his wife for rendering humanitarian assistance to the less privileged in the state, Governor Masari urged them to do more in order to ameliorate the plights of the masses.

Similarly, because of her unflinching efforts in supporting the good work her husband was doing in the health sector, Zakiyya in collaboration with Cry For Help (CFH), a non-governmental organisation on November 23, 2019 offered free medical outreach to 7,000 patients in Daura, the hometown of President Muhammadu Buhari, as part of effort to ameliorate their impediments.

At the event, Mrs. Masari called on the beneficiaries to regularly check their health status in order to reduce cases of diabetes, cancer, hepatitis, high blood pressure and other diseases.

 She noted that the free medical outreach was aimed at bringing succor to the less privileged and the vulnerable children in the society to enable them have a sense of belonging and urged residents of Daura to take advantage of the exercise to check their health status.

 She said, “The free medical outreach services includes provision of healthcare items, eye care treatment and provision of medical glasses, provision of drugs to patients, blood testing and counseling as well as provision of tooth paste and tooth brush for children among others.

 The governor’s wife reiterated that her pet project had done tremendously well in rendering humanitarian services to the vulnerable in 12 local government areas under Daura senatorial zone in the last five years.

 “My pet project has in the last five years been rendering various humanitarian services for the less privileged and vulnerable ones in all the twelve local government areas of Daura senatorial zone as follows; provision of empowerment grant and packages to women and youth to boost their businesses and provision of essential drugs to health facilities and cash assistance to the less privileged patients”.

 She further added: “Skill acquisition training for women and youth to become self-reliant, scholarship allowances to girls across Daura zone and agricultural for women to enhance food security, among other numerable humanitarian interventions aimed at assuaging the suffering of the masses”. 

While pledging that her pet project would not relent in its quest of alleviating and improving the socia-economic and well-being of women, youth and children in the state, Mrs. Masari said: “We are ever ready to partner with the local and international development partners on any programme that would impact positively on the lives of women, youth and children of Daura senatorial zone and the state at large”.  

 In his remarks during the exercise, the Secretary General, Cry For Help, Mr. Alfred Sanni, said the medical outreach was one of the community and social responsibility services of the non-governmental organisation, calling on residents to patronise the one-day medical outreach.

 He urged the women to be steadfast, focused and prayerful, saying it was their responsibility to ensure that their children were trained.

“When the children are trained, automatically they will come and raise you up from the valley. I continue to advise them that whatsoever you can do, do it well and use the proceeds to train your children,” Sanni said.

Meanwhile, some of the beneficiaries, Zainab Ibrahim, from Dutsi Local Government Area, Malam Sani Hamisu, an indigene of Daura Local Government Area and Babangida Sule, also from Daura who spoke with our correspondent all poured encomiums on Hajiya Zakiyya and prayed God to reward her abundantly for putting similes on their faces.

  But for 55-year-old Binta Mammam, “My prayer for Hajiya Zakiyya, is that Allah will bless her more and give her the enablement to continue her good work. It is not easy for a fellow woman to stand up for widows, may Allah bless her for making us happy”.