Owning up to our stories

Not always do we see a prominent Nigerian telling our story as is.

Yesterday, I read two different stories about northeast Nigeria. One says life is back to normalcy in Maiduguri highlighting this with people jubilating at a wedding ceremony having fun and celebrating life. This is a great news to see that peace is returning at last.

Who doesn’t love good news? In a country like ours, there is something that I have found more comforting than short-term good news as I am aware there are some underline issues that must be dealt with strategically for sustainable improvement. This is why I found Aliko Dangote and Bono appeal right step forward.

The first twenty-two seconds of this video highlights a very important issue that is prevalent in the north; child marriage.

Bono expressed his surprise seeing a nine year old child bride and Alhaji Dangote also reminded him of a 15 year old girl who recently gave birth.

Even as a Nigerian, I still feel shocked whenever this comes up, maybe our men can live with this insanity but how on earth can a mother, a grandmother allow this cycle of abuse to continue is beyond my understanding.

How could we ever get out of this rot if Nigeria has two different rules regarding appropriate age limit for marriage – south is 18 years old and north? That one changes with the weather, some say it’s 12 but as we can see here it is nine.

Can one even call a union involving a nine year old girl marriage?

I believe that the northeast issue affects the whole of the country, I believe everyone is feeling the effect. For one, the number of beggars is increasing by the day in the south.

I also believe that this is a huge threat to the country and international communities if the displaced people did not receive needed help so they can ease in to normalcy of life before crime is the only way out.

However, this fundamental issue of child abuse aka child-bride that Nigeria has refused to deal with effectively needs our leaders’ attention, I mean women leaders. Stripping up childhood from people is human right abuse.

I hear people talk about high poverty rate in the north, this is unfortunate, however, how is that going to ever end when girls aren’t allowed to be children and be educated so they can at least make a decision on their own accord?



Categories: Nigeria, Politics, Religion, Women

Tags: , , ,

24 replies

  1. I read something like……

    “Maybe our men can live with this insanity but how on earth can a mother, a grandmother allow this cycle of abuse to continue is beyond my understanding.”

    …..& I cringe from the thought of the enormity of the problem. The real problem of these Cultures that advocate child-brides is that over centuries the women (illiterate mainly), have been brain-washed into accepting this as ideal & prestigious. And believe it or not, they are guarding it religiously & with so much pride. They look to be send their kids to early marriages and their kids look to be married early. It is crazy and I feel sorry for anyone one who takes on this establish trend. I have students who are doing great in their tertiary education that would rather have been married early. It is beyond comprehension.

    This week my school (Health College) held a week long free medical care program & treated over 2000 men, women & children free of any charge. It was a ‘roll-back malaria’ program but of course other ailments were treated. It was alarming the percentage of children below 10…. I was just going over the Statistics…. three fifth were kids! It took every effort to keep myself from lashing out at a number of the girls with four, five, six, kids in tow.
    “Please tell your husband you won’t have kids anymore.” I would have loved to say.

    The situation is bad….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sad, isn’t it?

      But these young mothers are incapable of deciding the number of children they would have, that power lies in the hand of the man of the house.

      Here is where we need realistic approach to family planning where women in this situation can choose the one that’s best for them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My point exactly!! The women can’t do JACK!! So it is a huge miss-reading of the situation to think that these mothers, Aunts, Grandmother etc (Educated & Illiterate alike) have a say or can really do anything really about early marriage or how many children they have. It is & has always been the men who call the shots. They have got the women actually competing amongst themselves to outdo one another at breeding….

        Liked by 1 person

        • You are right. How sad, “outdo one another at breeding….”

          I imagine a day that Nigeria will work together on this issue, it is just not fair that in the same country little kids are subject to different laws. Not that we agree on anything beneficial to the public, but snatching childhood from little kids is revolting.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. If childhood is gone
    Then it will never be found

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Folakemi,

    I’ve sent a related essay to your address.

    Here is one to share:

    https://emotanafricana.com/2013/07/23/list-of-those-who-said-yes-to-underage-brides-33-northern-nigerians-2-southern-nigerians

    https://emotanafricana.com/2013/07/24/ondo-centrals-akinyelure-to-recant-vote-on-child-bride-sahara-reporters/

    There are others worth checking out, including a 15-year old’s trauma of being sentenced to death after killing her “husband”; just input “child bride” in the search box.

    Thanks for shedding light on these Nigerian stories that seem to come out of Medieval times.
    TOLA.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. PS.
    I’m sure you were aware of Zamfara’s Governor Yerima, now a senator of the “federal” Republic of Nigeria who got married to a sub-teen while he was governor. It became a huge story during Onasanjo’s presidency. The child bride Bill, of course, passed. I’ll search a link to a related story about some Southern bread and butter so-called “lawmakers” voting for the bill.

    I remember that the senator representing my Ondo State constituency, Akinyelure (?) was met at AKURE, the state capital by enraged women. In tears – as per photos – he claimed to have voted in error!!!

    Relax, please, Dear Folakemi.

    Greetings,
    TOLA.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Folakemi,

    Nigeria is made up of many nationalities that would work as two,different countries, a fact we all know but is very difficult to accept to Southern sensibilities. It will never change, at least, it won’t for many genrations, pardon the pessimism. THAT is the Northern Muslim religion, and cry hoarse, Southerners may do as they’ve done for a long term, it’s not going to happen – good sense, that is.

    Solution?

    One of the main reasons why we will need to part ways, later or soon. On the other hand, true federalism which would see the links that bind the federating units considerably reduced, as in confederations. We can share defence, currency, diplomacy and a few such. Each state/ethnic nationality would then decide its priorities based on its values and other important items. They can place religion above education, spending a major part of annaul budget on pilgrimage to Mecca which riles the South and but which would be fine. And the South may finally be able to return to how to reform the destroyed education sector, which would also be fine.

    Pardon, Folakemi, weep not for Nigeria because it’s really un-fixable unless the forced British marriage is allowed to break.

    My regards,
    TOLA.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How to tackle child marriage in Nigeria? This is a question that has come up time and time again. So far it has withstood all attempts of reason to kill it off. Why are people so attached to men having sex with children? Are there not enough women in northern Nigeria? What is it that causes the society to overlook the fact that this is a contributory factor to their backwardness and if they aspire to improve their lot ie progress – this is one of the things that has to be dealt with properly. A look around the world will reveal that societies where people aspire to live in do not legalise child sex or child marriage. The medical and psychological trauma are well documented.
    Some may cite that it is allowed by the Koran. If all Muslims followed this practice then that would be the end of the matter, but it isn’t. Egypt ( a Muslim nation), is tackling this issue with limited success. So if they can do it why can’t northern Nigeria? Islam was long established in Egypt before anyone in Nigeria even knew about Islam.
    I think the key question is to really drill down as to ‘why this occurs and continues to occur?’ – Once we have established that, come up with solutions. Calmly accepting the situation will not make it go away. Facing the truth of the matter is the only way forward.
    I noticed that a lot of emphasis is being laid on celebrating marriages, and the like, yet in the same breath Dangote is appealing for foreign aid. Would it not be better for people to scale down their lavish celebrations can concentrate on rebuilding schools etc. I don’t believe this issue will go away, after all BH are alive and well and continue to attract followers. The army should not ease up on this fundamental task.
    Observation, many great plans have been hatched to rebuild/ build Nigeria, and to date not one of them has worked properly (or as intended), so what would make the skeptical observer think that this time things will be different? Once such plans come into contact with the Nigerian ‘way of doing things’ ie prebendalism the whole thing is subverted and diverted and ultimately fails.
    When disaster hits a country such as China, the nation rallies to support the government in tackling the crisis. The tragedy in the north-east has seen much of Nigeria turn it’s back on those people. That being the case an OPEC member and (allegedly) Africa’s largest economy should not be seeking foreign aid, it should be able to call on it’s people to support it in its efforts in rebuilding. The outside world can state that there are far more deserving cases (which is true), then Nigerians have no one to blame but themselves.
    Bono is a generous and polite man, but I’m sure he must have questions as to why Nigeria can’t sort this out themselves? Dangote is trying, but I’m sure he can do more to cajole the elite in Nigeria to do more.
    What is are the south-east or south-south doing to help? I’m sure whatever they are doing, they can step it up? The same applies to all the other regions.
    On a lighter note, I did watch the video of a wedding being celebrated, ie didn’t realise people in that part of the country know how to ‘get down and party’. Nice to see.
    Thanks FK for trying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I too saw one Al Jazeera’s video with people dancing to pop songs. Agreed it is nice to see people having fun.

      jco, Is that a trick question asking what the southern are doing to help? I bet people are helping somehow in terms of food donations and data collection of the IDPs but obviously more is needed.

      Well, I am sure Bono would have asked so many thought provoking questions, lets hope people will get the message.

      Like

      • No FK, I don’t ask trick questions. What I am saying is that collecting unwanted food and clothes is insufficient and I’m sure each region can do a lot more. I know whenever Igbos are being massacred in the north. Somehow money is found to ‘rescue’ the victims from dying in state ‘hospitals’ and give them private health care and return them to the east, this isn’t cheap. So if they can stomp up the money for that, why not tap into the same resource and send those funds to where it is needed? After all Bono from Ireland, which is relatively far away, says we are all inter-connected, how much more so if we are only a few hundred miles away. People may say, the north has killed many innocent civilians – this is undeniable, but aren’t people meant to be Christian which embraces forgiveness? Who knows what may happen in the future and those people may someday repay the debt of gratitude.

        Each region could contribute 2% of it’s budget to the north-east. Senators and the like could forego a month’s pay, that would make a huge difference. Each school and university could raise money, the list is endless. What we demand in return is accountability and transparency. We don’t want to see it all disappear off to Dubai or on religious pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia. Let the money be used on something tangible that will affect lives or ordinary people positively.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks jco. Yes, I thought this is what you implied, but unfortunately things aren’t like this on ground. What you described is logically the best solution and what I would prefer. If we had this mindset from the beginning BH would never get to this stage. It has always being thought to be the problem of the north, but now everyone is paying for it.
          And who can really blame people, after all that Buhari promised yet, he still went back on his word to subsidise for Mecca while 2.5 Million people in one region are starving.

          It is such a shame as already there are reports coming out that people in charge of IDPs camps are diverting material gifts for resale in the market. We are our own problem – nothing is off limit with corrupt minds.

          Well, talking about christianity and forgiveness, I think Nigeria Christianity is different in this regard. Only last week was a news about CAN (christian association of Nigeria) in the north decided they no longer want to be part of the association citing corruption of the last governing body. What this will do is to reduce the little amount of help coming from that end.

          Like

          • Thank you for the reply.
            You hit the nail on the head, ‘we are our own worst problem’ – this all encompassing statement encapsulates the problems with pulling together to help one another. Diversion of what little aid there is to some other avenues, and a lack of unity even on those who claim to be on the ‘same side’ ie the Christians. This is why I think Alhaji Dangote’s call for a Marshall plan for the north/ north-east is waste of time, Nigerians will sabotage it. Nobody is asking how the north-east even got to this state. We all know during the Obasanjo era all the fund transfers from Abuja to the various states were transparent, it was printed in the newspapers, but what happened after the money hit the state capitals is another matter altogether that goes unchallenged and unquestioned. This means it could all happen again!

            Back to the main issue, why child marriage continues to occur, each time you have asked this question no one has really got down and asked personal up-front questions, not to mention get proper answers, as such we aren’t really dealing with the problem. We highlight it, and after a period of time move on. The consequence of a muted response is that this act continues to produce more tragic stories of misery and unhappiness for little girls. Like Mrs Adenle says, this will go on for a number of generations at the very least, whilst northern women and men remain quiet.

            Liked by 1 person

  7. Fola this is a battle well worth fighting for.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sis, thanks for bringing up this issue again.
    It also baffles me that a mother will fold her arms and watch her child embark on same horrendous journey she herself embarked on many years ago. Why? Are the Northern women that dumb? SMH

    Liked by 1 person

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