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Bill Seeking 5-Month Leave For Widows Scales Second Reading

A bill seeking to allow widows and widowers to take leave with full pay to mourn deceased spouses has passed for a second reading in the House of Representatives.

The bill, sponsored by Saidu Abdullahi (APC, Niger), was debated on Tuesday by the lawmakers during plenary.

The legislation is proposing to make paid leave mandatory for widows and widowers. For widows, the bill proposes five months and one month for a widower.

“A widow is eligible for five months widowhood leave, while a widower is eligible for one month leave, both with full pay. This bill shall apply to employees of both public and private sectors of the federation,” the proposal reads.

Leading the debate on the bill, Mr Abdulahi said widows and widowers deserve the right to mourn their departed loved ones away from work.

“By introducing widowhood Leave, we acknowledge the unique challenges faced by widows and widowers and provide them with the necessary time and space to grieve, seek counselling, and adjust to the new realities. This support can significantly contribute to their emotional healing and overall resilience.

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“It allows widows to focus on caring for their children and other family members who may be dependent on them during this challenging time.

“It also allows widows to fulfil some religious and cultural obligations. For example, a Muslim widow is expected to perform iddah (waiting period) for a period of four months and 10 days.

During this period, she would not be expected to attend any function outside her home and she is not required to interface with any man that is not her immediate relation,” Mr Saidu said.

Speaking in support of the bill, Ademorin Kuye (APC, Lagos), said the bill would provide the legal framework for an existing cultural practice in Nigeria.

When the bill was put to question by the Speaker, Tajudeen Abbas, the lawmakers voted to pass it for a second reading. The speaker then referred to the relevant committee for further legislative action.

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