ABUJA, NIGERIA - Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osibanjo this week announced plans by the government to allocate funds to support families of fallen troops and to increase the allotment to veterans and those currently serving in the military.
The announcement came amid events marking Armed Forces Remembrance Day on Wednesday.
"This is the commitment that the federal government through the president has made to do better for our veterans and the families of our fallen heroes and to improve the conditions of those who serve today,” Osibanjo said. “And we shall do so incrementally, making provisions in the annual budget. We do not and will not take our men and women of the armed forces for granted."
Thousands of victims
Since the start of the Boko Haram insurgency in 2009, thousands of troops have been killed by the Islamist militant group and its West African affiliate ISWAP, leaving behind their families. Leaders of the Military Widows Association (MiWA) say there are more than 5,000 registered members and the number keeps growing by the day.
Armed Forces Remembrance Day is usually celebrated to remember troops and their families and also renew commitments toward ending the war. This year’s event was by far the most memorable, said Marlin Idris, whose husband was killed by Boko Haram during an ambush on a military convoy in Borno state in 2014.
"The army has been very supportive, the government has been supportive through the army as well, and then other individuals have also tried to support the widows,” Idris said. “Basically, I'd say even though it seemed as if our lives ended at that point in time, we're still moving because God has provided people that supported us."
Sign of hope
Gift Aloko, president of the widows association, said, “When they're burying your husband, they tell you, ‘Madam, we're here for you,’ but this is the first time we're seeing that ‘we're here for you’ is really a word that they fulfilled."
The widows now do not receive any official payment from the government, but Aloko said they usually get some donations from the wife of the country's defense chief.
It is not known when the budgetary allotment to families of slain soldiers will take effect, but the families are waiting and hoping the government fulfills its promise.