Lekoil Boss Calls for Policy Changes, Stronger Support for Widows

Lekan Akinyanmi, CEO, Lekoil Nigeria Limited, one of Nigeria’s leading indigenous oil and gas companies, has called for stronger support and policy changes in favour of widows. He made this call through a compelling Op-ed published in commemoration of the 2024 edition of International Widows Day.

According to Akinyanmi, who is also the Chairman of Cambridge Growth Partners (CGP), he marked the United Nations’ designated day by embarking on a journey of introspection. He reflected on the challenges faced by nearly 260 million widows worldwide, emphasizing that any effort to improve their lives is “profoundly personal” to him due to his own personal experiences.

“Growing up, I witnessed firsthand the struggles and injustices that widows in my family endured. These experiences have shaped my understanding and fueled my commitment to advocate for their rights and well-being. For example, my mother was widowed for 11 years before she passed away. This personal experience has given me a deep insight into the profound challenges widows face, challenges that are often compounded by cultural norms, legal barriers, and economic inequalities.”

“The pain of widowhood became shockingly clear to me when my father passed away in 1999. Within less than 24 hours of his burial, some family members showed up at our house, demanding his belongings—his possessions, his property, and even the car I had bought for him. This Mercedes-Benz sedan was a gesture to replace a car he had sold to support our family. These events left me deeply troubled and profoundly impacted my understanding of the vulnerability widows often face,” he wrote.

Akinyanmi, who stated his support and commendation for The Global Fund for Widows (GFW), an international nonprofit founded by Heather Ibrahim-Leathers with a focus on empowering widows through financial inclusion, submitted: “The scale of the issue is staggering. There are at least 258 million widows in the world, over 100 million of whom live in poverty. Nigeria’s census claims that we are home to 3 million widows, however, estimates by the experts in the field indicate that widows could number nearly 15 million. This stark disparity underscores the urgency of addressing this real and pressing issue.”

While advocating for comprehensive policy reforms to ensure dignity, respect, honor, unwavering support for widows, and the elimination of discriminatory practices against them, Akinyanmi stated: “International Widows Day serves as a poignant reminder of the injustices widows face worldwide. It is a day to honor their resilience and strength in the face of adversity. It is also a call to action—a call to stand in solidarity with widows everywhere, to amplify their voices, and to work towards a future where no widow is marginalized or forgotten.”

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