Over the years, at least since we got our democracy back, we have had to fight one issue or the other with our leaders over their misplaced priorities. These issues have gone from taking too much money for themselves and unwilling to pay a meager minimum wage of eighteen thousand naira to some hard working Nigerians and then to fuel and now to child marriage. Since the hotspot issue at the moment is the child marriage let me attempt to focus on that. However, I would want to set out by saying that the kind of noise being generated by the child marriage should not only be for the child marriage. It is no longer news that our leaders are the highest paid amongst politicians around the world. I think we need to create petition pages and generate the same noise until they are willing to take pay cuts. I already said I will come back to that much later.
Setting the records straight, the Nigerian state is not a state that was created on the basis on religion even though it has made provision for freedom of association and does believe in God without preference for any religion. Consequent upon this, it is absolutely wrong for one Senator Yerima to make presentations to the Senate and subsequently canvass votes on same using the sentiments of religion. If we will give religious colouration to our constitution, then we should make no mistake that the people who are presently in the lower and upper chambers of the national assembly are not in any way supposed to be representing us. We know our religious leaders who are not only trained and qualified scholars but are men and women of unquestionable integrity who stand tall and hold their heads high because they have no skeletons in their cupboards. These are men and women that you will also find either as Moslems or Christians all around the geopolitical zones of the country. Since we are not running a religious national assembly or constitution, it is therefore common sense that the debates of the assembly be guided by moral, ethical and true African values in line with the current realities and bearing in mind that we are a part of the United Nations. We cannot be signing treaties of the United Nations and be involved in acts that are against the goals or visions of the United Nations.
The United Nation strongly desires to end poverty and abuse of any kind against women. To sign any document into law that allows child marriage is against the goal to end any form of abuse against women. The first thing about the law is that the children to be given away are not mentally and psychologically old enough to take such decisions on their own. It is already a form of abuse to decide for them who to marry which was the archaic practice in the country. When they eventually come of age, they may not like the person they have been forced to marry and may make attempts to run away. Some the wild beasts that they would have been betrothed to will at this point begin to beat them up and lock them in the house. They may fight at first and later resign to fate.
On the medical perspective, none of the children in the age bracket being considered (from 9 upwards) is truly ready for child birth. We are in a part of the world where maternal mortality is still a big issue. We cannot allow underage girls to get married and be on the news again for maternal mortality. I am so ashamed of the fact that Senator Yerima is saying sex is not the only reason for marriage but my question is, why marry an underage girl if you are not interested in having sex with her? If helping the girls, as he claimed, is the issue then he should go and start a foundation for girls. Unfortunately he is no longer qualified to do so because we must be wary of any foundation strictly for girls being initiated by such people. To give away these young girls is as good as signing their death warrant immediately without thinking twice!
I can recall that this is not the first time the said Senator Yerima will be in the news on the grounds of marital issues with under aged girls. Let us not forget the fact that the Northern part of Nigeria has produced more leaders than any other part of the country. There is no way we will write the story of this country without the scale being very or conspicuously higher on the side of the northerners because of the leaders they have produced for the country and their role in developing or building the nation. In all of these, one will wonder why the northern states are still the most underdeveloped part of the country! I think we can now see the answers! One of the reasons is misrepresentation from some of their leaders who only present issues that personally affect them without necessarily changing the lives of the people they represent. I was in the north as a youth corp member and for the first time I saw how some of the leaders are under developing those parts of the country and are enriching themselves.
A few rich people seem to be content with being very rich and feeding every other person around them. Education has not become a priority. I was shocked when I decided to take up a teaching job just for extra income as a youth corp member because I realized students in senior secondary school one could not on their own read their literature texts. To make it worse, I was told that one of the students that I had asked to read a literature text is the daughter of a professor.
You will also not be amazed to note that most of these students who cannot read and write easily are already engaged to be married to someone. And as it is in most cases, some of them end of marrying after their secondary education. It is not a better case for some of them who manage to make it to the tertiary institution. However, I also need to say that I have met several exceptional young guys from the North who, regardless of the poor education have been able to stand out. I have friends like Samaki Sanusi Bello, Nuhu Aliyu, Ibrahim Digi and a few others.
One major issue that I think is wrong is that the leaders are not presenting any vision and that is not only in the North. We have, for too long allowed those who do not have any vision to lead us and that is why we are getting nowhere despite all the efforts we are making. It is one thing to create documents and say that we have a vision and it is another to create visions out of genuine concerns for the people.
It may not be too early to start saying that all Nigerians should prepare themselves for the 2015 elections and demand more from anyone who wants to become a leader rather than just allowing take a bow and go into leadership to do all the things that they like.
In the mean time, we must at all cost stop the Senate from considering the myopic view of Senator Yerima and the others who share his opinion. Please join the campaign and sign the petitions being presented around the country. In case you are far away from anywhere a petition is being signed, you can sign an online petition on www.change.org using this link: https://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/united-nations-stop-the-nigerian-senate-from-making-under-age-marriage-the-law?share_id=eypEKHEpKq&utm_campaign=friend_inviter_chat&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=permissions_dialog_false
Together we have a greater voice compared to that of a few in the national assembly! We can get them to do what we want! We can get them to be effective! We can help them to do it right! Now is the time! It’s not tonight, tomorrow and it’s not next week! It is now!