What to look for in a Nigeria university chancellor: a crown or moral standards?

Quite pleased with Habiba’s parents for questioning their emir for his involvement in childbride – now we know childbride is underreported because parents fear their case will likely be swept under the carpet.

Often we hear about parents ‘willingly’ sold their girls out because of poverty but I have never believed that is the whole story, I have always thought many parents who knew better and disagreed with the ancient practice were likely silenced by the powerful people around.

Similar to 14 year old Ese who earlier this year was taken from her parents and married off without the parents’ knowledge, then went to the Emir of Kano’s palace for blessing. Thankfully, the cry of well-meaning Nigerians worked and Ese was released to her family.

Now it is Habiba Isyaku, a 14years old, allegedly abducted by Jamilu Lawal, Emir of Katsina’s aide.

There has been inconsistency with the story as to who really was married to Habiba. Is it the 64 year old Emir or his aide, Jamiu Lawal? (neither makes the story acceptable).

What is clear though is that Habiba is at the palace, now a Muslim convert and a childbride.

Habiba’s parents bravely spoke out that they were not happy about the union as their little girl is still at school and decided to involve Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the area to seek for justice on their behalf.

CAN and the parents went to the palace where the Emir has asked the Katsina Emirate Council to decide the fate of Habiba by asking Habiba three questions.

I wouldn’t be repeating the questions but I find one particularly worth stressing. Habiba was asked if she has started her period to which she answered yes – here it means she is ‘ripe’ enough for marriage, so the council ruled the marriage was ‘irreversible’ – their word.

Good gracious, thank God Habiba is 14. If starting period is the yardstick for marriage age appropriate, then Habiba could have been 9 years old and yet in 2016 The Katsina Council would have said no more case to answer.

Brief research on Emir of Katsina, Abdulmumini Kabir Usman reveals that he was the Chancellor of my local university, Obafemi Awolowo University from 2008 -2015, I had a big lump in my throat reading this, how embarrassing! Does this even make any sense to appoint someone who lived in a state where 67% of girls have no chance of education to such an important honorary position? I am aware that this is a ceremonial position, yet I seriously doubt his moral standards to warrant such a position.

Isn’t it the case that people get honorary positions because of some high moral standards? Why is it that we are blinded by ‘protocols’ thus keep glorifying the ‘unglorifiables’ – time for change from the top?

Childbride is a big issue that should bother all Nigerians, for a starter, we have too many people with this mindset making important decisions, this is why Gender Equal opportunity (GEO Bill) was rejected in the first place and now significantly edited (to appease a few individuals).

Katsina is President Buhari’s home state, seems he has his plate full on his return from Germany. Fingers crossed for Habiba and family.

Categories: Education, Nigeria, Politics, Women

Tags: , , , , , ,

9 replies

  1. This is all rather murky.
    My view is:
    1) Human rights must be upheld and respected. There is no use paying someone to fly overseas and give them a generous allowance to sign a document, which the government has no intention of enforcing.
    2) Since Habiba was forcibly converted to Islam, I understand then she wasn’t born or raised as a Muslim. I thought Sharia does not apply to non-Muslims, so what right does the Emirate Council have to apply it’s jurisdiction to her? She is a non-Muslim and therefore is not bound by Islamic law.
    3) If there is a secular body that stands above the religious fray, then should rule on this promptly.
    4) There is no way a stranger should be allowed to snatch anyone (child or otherwise) from their home, forcibly change their identity (in this case religion) and then use marriage as the cover to sexually rape her and enslave her to keep his home, ie wash his clothes and cook his food. Even soldiers on the battlefield, have laws to check this behaviour.

    It is evident, that the will of the person concerned has no relevance in Nigeria, and this so far is another account of random cruelty being accepted by society. Until a strong civil society emerges to bring pressure to bare on an indifferent government, these kind of cases will continue. I wish her the best, but looking at the plight of the Chibok girls, I won’t hold my breath.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You last paragraph is spot on, most Nigerians will agree to that.

      Yes, I read that Habiba was a christian and I suspect that is one main reasons parents are getting help at all otherwise it would have seems normal.
      From what I read parents have tried to deal with this internally since August, the parents must have felt so powerless before involving the media – it is a shameful practice.

      I am not sure about Sharia Law been limited to only the muslims in Nigeria, this is the narrative that we tell ourselves. Sharia law is been used side by side with Nigeria constitution even at the senate meetings whenever there is heated debate on important issues such as human rights and in most cases folks with this narrow views always have the upper hand. This is what happened with Senator Yarima.

      Irony is in a few years they will use the same law to push the poor girl out if she has any health issues with a couple of children and no support – well, until the state pays for mass wedding because the same law prohibits seen divorcee being alone.

      Agreed that signing petition isn’t the best way to go here, people need to lend voices across the country so the girls is released.


      • I think it is the way it is interpreted or should I say misinterpreted in Nigeria.
        according to this:
        “Remember, the Qur’an teaches that religion must not be a matter of the state. Shariah is a personal relationship with God. Prophet Muhammad, even as the de facto ruler of Arabia, wrote the Charter of Medina in which Muslims were held to Shariah Law, and Jews to the Law of the Torah. Not a single non-Muslim was held to Shariah because Shariah itself forbids compulsion. The Qur’an clearly says, “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:257).”
        Taken from -“Sharia Law: The five things that every non-Muslim (and Muslim) should know” – The Huffington Post.
        Here is the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/qasim-rashid/shariah-law-the-five-things-every-non-muslim_b_1068569.html

        That is why I said that because Miss Isyaku was a non-Muslim and forcibly converted, there is no case to answer and she should be released immediately, but as you said this is theoretical the situation is somewhat removed from the religious teaching it is meant to be based on.

        Keeping quiet about it won’t make it go away, so hence even though this isn’t the first or second case I’ve read about this, it is in a good cause. We need prominent persons/celebrities both from the north and south to stand up and be counted, instead of hiding amongst the masses.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you for that article, insightful. In a country like ours, I think working knowledge of Q’uran and Bible will be beneficial especially when people cunningly select verses that support their views.

          Without strong institutions where there is universal understanding of children’s rights, where faith/tradition can not override, we will keep going in circle.


  2. I know it’s a struggle Fola, but it is well worth the fight. Don’t lose hope because each time you bring this subject up it is a move forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. President Buhari, from his stance concerning the role of a woman, will do nothing about it. He cannot even handle the pressure on him just now.
    I have so much to say, but when I type, I just want to weep and end up deleting everything. Our core leaders have no morals and I thank God I learned early enough that Nigeria is just the typical example of the animal farm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point on Buhari’s other pressures.

      I hear you on this our love-hate country. The more I learn about it, the more I see the complexity of it all but we can’t give up as those who are adamant on sabotaging efforts of good people aren’t ready to give up.

      Thanks for stopping by


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