Emotions, prayers, testimonies, commendations dominate S.O.B’s empowerment programme for widows

Hon. S.O.B. Agunbiade, the Majority Leader of the Lagos State House of Assembly and representative of the Ikorodu Constituency I, is no doubt a rare breed human being and a man of his words.

Barely one month after his house was savagely invaded by a crowd of hoodlums and properties and food items worth millions of naira were carted away and destroyed, the compassionate lawmaker exhibited an unusual spirit of humanitarialism as he gave out cash and food items to 60 widows selected across Ikorodu Constituency.

The exemplary gesture, which came as a surprise to the beneficiaries and those who witnessed the presentation, resulted in deluge of commendations and prayers for the Opomulero (Pillar) of Ikorodu at the event.

The impressive turnout at the event, which was held at the lawmaker’s Constituency Office in Oke Ota-Ona,lkorodu, on Wednesday, November 25, 2020, was an indication that the ranking lawmaker is still a man of the people and still being held in high esteem despite the aspersions being cast on his person by his antagonists.

At the event, #50,000 cash and two bags of food items were presented to each of the 60 widows by Hon. Agunbiade in fulfilment of his earlier promise made in commemoration of his birthday celebration last month but which was made impossible due to the attack on his house.

The beneficiaries, according to report, were nominated by Association of Widows in Ikorodu, social media platforms, Community Development Associations, Religious bodies, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Political party, traditional institutions and market associations among others.

The first edition of the Hon. SOB Agunbiade’s widow’s mite was held at the Ikorodu town hall in 2019 where N25, 000 cash and food items were given to each of the 100 widows that benefitted from the gesture. Most of the beneficiaries at the event were wives of deceased men who had served lkorodu community as members of the Onyabo Vigilance Group, Police officers and Night guards among others.

While speaking at the event, Hon. Agunbiade said that the gesture is his way of identifying with widows and those in need in the society.

He also explained how his intention was misconstrued during the #EndSARS protest when a store where he kept food items meant for widows and others were tagged COVID-19 palliatives and looted.

“I planned to commemorate my birthday with support for widows by giving them money and food items as a way of identifying with them in my own little way.

“It is my way of showing that I am compassionate with their state of affairs in life.

“I am also of the view that widows should be supported because they carry a lot of burden; burden of lost of loved ones; of having to take care of children that would have been raised together by their husbands and burden of allegations of culpability in the death of their husbands as always the case in some tribes.

“This is my idea of supporting widows but while trying to do that, the crisis broke out coupled with the political attack on me. The food meant for them were part of the dried foods that those that invaded my store during the #EndSARS protest looted and also tagged everything palliatives.

“I keep telling people that the invaders took were away what l planned to distribute to people on October 25th to commemorate my birthday.

“What I am doing today is what I planned doing on my birthday; to gather vulnerable people and widows, youths and other and distribute the food items to them, but it was misconstrued and those that were behind the attack were very mischievous about it saying that those food items were palliatives”, he explained.

The ranking lawmaker, who stated that he had to struggle to fulfill his pledge to the widows, added that his widow’s mite is not just for the widows alone but a concept that he developed to reach out to all that are in need.

“I had to struggle again to make today’s happen since I have promised widows that I wanted to give them money and food for my birthday but which the crisis did not allow”, Hon. Agunbiade said.

“Today, I have been able to fulfill that pledge to them by giving 60 of them N50, 000 each and dried food items. It is a commitment that I have made and I must discharge it. It is like a covenant with God.

“I am going to show more passion for vulnerable people. The widow’s mite is a concept not only for widows but to also give whatever I have, no matter how small, to support those in need”, he revealed.

“I will still extend my widow’s mite to vulnerable youths, people living with disability and old citizens. These are my plans of showing compassion to people around me who need support genuinely. Those that benefitted today were nominated by different groups”, he added.

While encouraging beneficiaries of his gestures to make good use of the money given to them, Hon. Agunbaide narrated how he was impressed with the way one of the beneficiaries of the first edition of his widow’s mite used the N25, 000 given  to her to support herself and family.

“My message to the widows is that no matter how small the money, try start to start a business. Just yesterday, somebody called me on phone and when l picked the call, the caller introduced herself as Mercy and gave her address.

“When I asked her what I can do for her, she said that she had been calling me for some days and that she just wanted to thank me for what I did for her last year.

“She told me that I gave her N25, 000 when she approached me that she needed money to eat  and that she used the money to start frying ‘akara’ (baked beans) for sale and added that the business has grown so well that she settled her house rent and also supported her children’s education.

“She also told me that she has stopped selling akara and now makes snacks. I was so impressed and I asked her to send me her bank account number and I sent her additional money.

“If the woman can judiciously use N25, 000 which was given to her, those that received N50, 000 today can use it for something meaningful”, he said while encouraging the beneficiaries to use the money given to them judiciously.

According to S.O.B Agunbiade, the cash gift and food support are meant to assist the widows in starting and expanding their businesses and also take care of their respective families.

Chief Kaoli Olusanya, the Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Asipa of Ikorodu Kingdom, in his remarks, commended Hon. Agunbiade’s representation and his efforts in supporting constituents and youth development.

He also charged other privileged individuals to endeavour to do humanitarian services and engage youths in exercises that would help them develop to save the society.

Also, he charged residents to always engage their elected political office holders by asking questions and requesting updates on their stewardship.

The Coordinator, Association of Widows in Ikorodu, Mrs. Bridget Uleghe, said that the news of the attack on Hon. Agunbiade’s home while he was planning to empower the widows, came to them as a shock.

She stated that she started her business with the money that the lawmaker gave her after she came back to Ikorodu and charged other privileged individuals to emulate Hon. Agunbiade’s gesture.

“It is my pleasure to be here today. We have been told that we are going to be given support since October, but unfortunately, we heard that Hon. SOB Agunbiade’s house was attacked which was so painful to us”, she lamented.

“We had to offer serious prayers for him at our last meeting.

“One thing that I know about Hon. Agunbiade is that his tomorrow will be greater than today, no matter what some people are doing”, the she said emotionally”.

While stating that she wanted to commit suicide after losing her husband and two kids in an accident, Mrs Uleghe said that she started business with the money given to her by Hon. Agunbiade.

“The first time was when he called us to the Ikorodu Town hall and assisted us. The money that he gave us on that day was the capital that I used in starting my business. I started with 40 bundles of firewood which I am getting from Imota and them to people”, she recalled.

 “I also added selling of fish to the firewood business. These are made possible by Hon. S.O.B. Agunbiade.

“There are many people here with so much money but don’t have the heart of giving or helping.

“The day I learnt that they attacked S.O.B, I cried because it is me that they wanted to kill again

She also recalled the support that Hon. Agunbiade gave to the widows during the pandemic period when, according to her, nobody remembered them.

 “During COVID – 19, nobody recognized widows but he (Hon. Agunbiade) called us and give us food items and he had also helped us on several occasions. What he gave us during the pandemic; we would not have been able to buy them if we had taken money to the market to purchase them at that time”, Mrs. Uleghe also recalled.

“If we have men like Hon. Agunbiade, Nigeria will not be like this. At least, our children and we (widows) will not be experiencing the hardship that we are going through today.

“I mean genuine widows because there are some widows that jumped out to make ends meet when their husbands died but that is not the solution and I keep telling them.

“I know that as long as S.O.B. remembers widows and as long as God lives, all the attacks being directed to him will not affect him and his family”.

 The beneficiaries were full of praise and appreciation to Hon. Agunbiade for the kindness he extended to them.

One of the beneficiaries of the lawmaker’s gesture, Mrs Basirat Emmanuel, said that she never expected such a gift from anyone.

She equally charged other privileged individuals to emulate Hon. Agunbiade by assisting widows and caring for those in needs.

“I never thought that I would be able to be beneficiary of what Hon. S.O.B. Agunbiade has given me. May God continue to bless him”, she said.

“If we can have more people extending such assistance to widows, our society will be a better place for all of us.

“I have never seen anybody helping like this since 13 years ago that I have lost my husband and have been working assiduously to survive with my children. I am greatly happy for him. May God continue to protect and grant him long life.

“I also pray that he will never lose his wife and also, his wife will not have cause to cry over him”.

Mrs. Emmanuel appealed to Ikorodu residents to cooperate and show understanding with the lawmaker for providing good representation for his people.

“I appeal to the generality of lkorodu people to show love to Hon. S.O.B. Agunbiade. He is not a perfect man but he’s doing his best for his people and he is still going to do more”, she said.

Another beneficiary, Mrs Adesanya Tawakalitu from Maya in Ikorodu North LCDA, said that she was impressed with the lawmaker’s gesture.

“I have a lot to say in appreciation of Hon. Agunbiade’s gesture because I am so impressed with his conduct, especially what he’s doing today. It shows that he has feelings for people. It is rare for people to have genuine feelings for others”, she said while commending Hon. Agunbiade.

“It implies that he knows what we are going through. The country will be better if others can emulate him.

“May God bless him; bless his family. He will continue to prosper and be blessed from glory to glory. He will not fall in the name of Jesus”, Mrs Adesanya prayed.

Mrs. Omolara Alashe, a retired teacher from Ikorodu, also speaking with our reporter, said:

“I am very happy with this gesture because I have a six month old baby with me when my husband died and with the attendant challenges. Although, I was working as a teacher when my husband died, but the situation became unbearable after my retirement from service.

“I am very happy with what Hon. Agunbiade has done and I pray that God will continue to help him to do much more”.

In her own reaction, Mrs. Abimbola Olayiwola, a beneficiary from Ikorodu in Ikorodu LG, said:

“He has further proven that he is the Pillar of Ikorodu (Opomulero) with this gesture. I have not seen anybody that has done something like this in the whole of Ikorodu and we will keep thanking him for his representation.

“He and his wife will live long and enjoy each other. God will bless his family and provide for them.

“All his properties that were vandalized will be replenished and God will grant him good health”.

An elderly female beneficiary, Madam Ibironke Ramota Akeredole, also said:

“What he has done to our widows will turn positive for him. The goodness of the Lord will continue to manifest in his life.

“He will reap the good fruits of his labour and his family will never be in want of anything as he has given us food and empowerment.

“I am an old woman, and he has provided me with what I can eat for a long time”.

The high point of the event was the presentation of #50, 000 cash gift and food items to one of the beneficiaries who is a midget popularly known as Auntie Ramota, by Hon. Agunbiade.

According to report, she was not among those listed to benefit from the largesse but was passing by when she saw the gathering and decided to stop over and ended up been a beneficiary on compassionate ground.

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