Exclusive Q&A

Uplifting The Wives of Fallen Heroes’ by Extending a Helping Hand – Mrs. Victoria Irabor & DEPOWA

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Barrister (Mrs.) Victoria Irabor, President, Defence, and Police Officers’ Wives Association (DEPOWA), a vast and well-read professional in the fields of law, conflict, security, development as well as corporate management and finance law has decided to use her in-depth knowledge and experience to take on the challenge of changing the narrative of the lives of widows in Nigeria, with special focus to the wives of fallen heroes in Nigeria. In her role as the DEPOWA president, she has not only led by example but has gone further to make sure that the military widows of the nation benefit and succeed.

She believes in fulfilling the African dream by harnessing the power of the skilled woman and has gone over and beyond to see to the social inclusion of These women via relevant skill acquisition. The wives of our fallen heroes are heroes in themselves and we must recognize them. They must be equipped to re-join society. Irabor has come in with a fresh pair of eyes for innovation and expansion with projects that goes beyond helping the widows of fallen heroes of Nigeria to helping the heroes themselves.

Women have always played an essential role in the development and growth of any society and Barrister (Mrs.) Victoria Irabor through the office of the president of DEPOWA has made it her mission to make sure that Nigerian widows lead better lives through skill acquisition projects, social inclusion, and the establishment of PTSD Rehabilitation centres for their husbands. She has shown tenacity, resilience, compassion, and a strong drive for excellence in the course of her service to Nigeria.

A team of editors caught up with her recently where she talked about her passion and motivation in helping widows.

We would be thrilled to know a little more about the woman behind such great works.

I am Mrs Victoria Irabor, fondly called Vicky by my friends and family. I am married to Major General Lucky Eluonye Onyenuchea Irabor. We believe in the grace of God and Jesus Christ, our Saviour. I am who I am today because God has made me so. My marriage is blessed with two beautiful children, a son and a daughter.

My parents were civil servants. My father was a teacher and principal of schools and my mother was a nurse, so they were exposed to education. This afforded me the opportunity to start school. I was exposed to a good education because my parents were educated. Today I am a lawyer and married to a military officer. I would relate who I am to date to the experiences I had as a child. With benefit of hindsight, I recall that as a child, my mother would look at me and she would praise me. She would say, “you see you’re so tall. I can imagine you reading law. “When you stand in court to speak, your presence will intimidate the judge”. With this nudge from her, fell in love with the profession after I researching. Later I came back to my mom and told her that I wanted to be a lawyer but I wanted to work with the police so that I’ll be able to fight crime and investigate crime. At the end of the day, I could not join the police but I married a military officer. So I think that my dream did come true, only in a different way than.

I graduated from the University of Benin where I obtained an LLB. I also proceeded to the Nigeria law school where I obtained my BL and was called to the Nigerian bar. After that I acquired three masters, first from the legal state university, where I obtained a master’s in corporate management and finance law, then a master of law from the Lawton University Bangladesh, and finally a master’s in conflict, security, and development from the Nigerian defence academia. I actually did my master in conflict, security, and development to support my husband in his job as a military officer.

You have a vision for DEPOWA as it were. Where did you meet it and where do you intend to leave?

When I met DEPOWA it was a very comfortable place to start off work. The past DEPOWA Presidents have done wonderfully well. DEPOWA as an association is the coordinating body for the army officers’ wives’ association, Naval officers’ wives’ association, air force officers’ wives’ association and the police officer’s wives’ association. As the president my position allows me to relate with women across the services. My vision for the association is broken down into parts. We have our traditional objective which is coming together as women and relating with one another. Sharing the same challenges with someone is usually reassuring. Another one of our traditional goals is to not leave the widow isolated. I have a goal to go beyond just support, I want to give skills to those that do not have them and then also sharpen their skills by organizing pieces of training.

I intend to go beyond the traditional objectives and goals. I have found a project that I think would launch DEPOWA to greater heights and that is looking beyond ourselves, not just what we can offer to the officer’s wives but to see what we can do for our husbands, because our husbands today have a huge problem that is plaguing them and that is the issue of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD. For the past decade, Nigeria has gone through conflict and when the men come back home, they return with so many issues. At the end of the day, the women and children in their lives are the first to receive the impact of these negative outcomes. Women watch their husbands go to the conflict zone and change.

Some of these women have complained that their husbands cry at night, they scream in their dreams and some become very violent and take it out on their wives and children. As a soldier or officer, you cannot go to the war zone, return and go straight back to your family. But in Nigeria, we do not have a system where these men are evaluated and if the problem of PTSD becomes existent in their lives, they don’t have a chance to be rehabilitated. We need that type of centre and that is why I am proposing that DEPOWA works towards establishing a rehab PTSD evaluation and rehabilitation centre for the armed forces.

That is my big project and goal. I believe one of the effective ways to help women is to give them a peaceful and safe home, to do this we must make sure that their husbands are sane and without any form of post-war trauma.

 Click HERE TO ACCESS THE FULL INTERVIEW on pages 7 – 9 of the current edition of the Amazons Watch Magazine.

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