On proliferation of ‘wives associations’

Association of Defence and Police Officers wives. Nigeria Civil Defence Officers Wives. Association of Federal Road Safety Officers Wives. National Association of Speakers Wives’ Association of Wives of Secretary to State Governments. These are examples of wives’ associations that have cropped up in the Nigerian landscape. Originally, wives associations were more common in the military. 

They are Army Officers wives Association, Naval Officers Wives Association, Air Force Wives Association and of course the Police officers Wives Association (POWA). POWA is the most popular of them probably because policemen are closest to Nigerians (civilians) in terms of everyday interactions than other arms of the military. Among their ubiquitous projects are the POWA shops built by them to help raise funds for its purse and for policemen’s wives in need. And now other quasi military organizations such as the Nigeria civil Defence Corp and the Federal Road safety Corp now have their own wives associations; just as the Customs Officers Wives Association, Immigration Wives Association, Prison Wives Association have also cropped up.

I shall not be surprised if sooner than later, we have Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Officers Wives Association with branches in all 36 states and the federal capital territory (FCT), Abuja with wife of the NDLEA chairman, General Buba Marwa (rtd) as its chairperson. A characteristic of the parent body of these Wives Associations is that they are domiciled in the nation’s capital and accordingly all the Wives Associations have 36 state chapters and wife of the highest ranking boss is the chairperson in the various states.

In the case of the police it is wife of the states commissioner of police, and for the paramilitary organisations, it is wife of the Commander/Controller in the various states while wife of the overall boss in in the Abuja headquarters of the organization is the national chairperson/ president that is, wife of the Inspector General of Police, Chief of Army Staff, Commandant-General, Controller-General, etc.

In the case of Association of Speakers’ Wives and Wives of Secretaries to State Governments, would they be able to have state branches? It is doubtful since there is only one SSG and one Speaker for each state. In that case there would only be wife of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and wife of the Speaker House of Representatives as the leaders respectively. 

But it is not impossible for there to be an Association of wives of Parliamentarians or Legislators, comprising of spouses of elected members of the State Houses of Assembly and House of Representatives. The latter would form the national body while Assembly members’ wives would be state chapter of the association. I guess that wives of our senators may not want to be lumped together with Association of Wives of Parliamentarians/Legistalators as they may feel that they are a breed apart because their husbands are “Distinguished Senators” while the other legislators are just “Honourables”. Abuja would of course be the only base such Senators’ Wives Association. To further show off their superciliousness they may call their own gathering, ‘Association of Distinguished Senators’ Wives”. And not to be left out , there could be ‘Former Senators’ Wives Association’ to distinguish it from that of sitting senators’ wives because a Senator even out of office bears the prefix ‘Senator’ for life according to the Nigerian norm. Thus, just about any group can form a ‘Wives Association’ these days.

We should differentiate between these Wives Associations and gender based associations such as Federation of Women Lawyers, Association of Women Medical Doctors, Association of Women Journalists, etc. These are groups catering to the special needs/interests of women in those professions and the wider society. Women lawyers for example, would better understand issues of gender violence, rape, etc., and so be in a position to better counsel victims as some of them may have experienced some of these things themselves. Female doctors can better handle medical issues bordering on gynecology and pediatrics, having experienced childbirth and nursing of children themselves; ditto women journalists on matters concerning women generally. Thus we see the usefulness of these gender associations to the general public.

However, for other wives associations, mentioned here, their activities are restricted to themselves. I am not saying that this is bad per se. Rather, am saying that their focus is rather arrow and selfish to be blunt. They wish to sun themselves in the glory of their husbands as appendages of their spouses. They make it seem as if a woman has to tag along, behind a man to be successful or achieve anything meaningful. A man and a woman are two independent human spirits, working together in their own unique ways. A women does not need a husband to be able to fully unfold her God-given potentials cum talents although having a spouse does not hinder their unfolding either.

A woman does not need special recognition or public applause as such. For, a woman’s high calling is to serve in humility, 

We should also distinguish between aforementioned wives associations and the long standing Niger Wives Association. This is an association of foreign born (white) women married to Nigerian men living in our country. Their coming together under an association umbrella appears necessary given the contrasting cultures between their original homeland and their new Nigerian homeland by marriage. By forming an association they help to give one another some kind of psychological boost to weather whatever cultural shocks they may be experiencing. And by sharing, discussing their experiences, members learn how to adjust to their new environment and even contribute to its development.

The‘Defence and Police Officers’ Wives Association (DEPOWA), suggests a restructuring and amalgamation of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police Officers’ Wives Association. DEPOWA’s first president is Vickie Irabor. She will be succeeded by wife of the new Chief of Defence Staff, Mrs. Chris Musa. 

Formation of this all encompassing organisation is a welcome development rather than the separate wives association for each of the armed forces and the police. Such a body is necessary now given that security agencies all have to contend with a common problem, viz, nationwide insecurity challenges that has led to overstretching of personnel with dire consequences on them in terms of fatalities and injuries leaving their wives more vulnerable. More than ever before, these women need physical, emotional and financial support which DEPOWA can help galvanise.

Ikeano writes via [email protected] 08033077519

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