MATTERS ARISING: Making Mothers Out of Children
From the Olympian heights of praise and respect for its tough stance against gay marriage deemed to be taboo and contradictory to Nigerian, nay African culture, the Nigerian Senate went to the uttermost ebb of criticism and vilification after 60 of its members voted to retain a clause which would somewhat not only legalize but indeed encourage the heinous act of making mothers out of children in Nigeria.
Taking advantage of section 29(4) of the constitution which says “any woman who is married shall be deemed to be full of age,” the 35 senators claimed that a woman is deemed to be full of age once she is married”. This obviously runs counter to the 18 year-old rule prescribed for any Nigerian to be deemed an adult by the same constitution. Though the clause was thrown open for debate for it to be possibly deleted from the constitution in the National Assembly’s on-going constitution review exercise, a fiery contribution from Senator Ahmed Yerima hinged essentially on the sanctity of the Islamic religion swung the tide instantly in favour of retaining the section. Senator Yerima, the former Governor of Zamfara State and pioneer state Sharia exponent who is renowned for playing up religious dogma for political and personal advantage was able to pool up the required figure of 60 NO against 35 YES.
It is no surprise that Senator Yerima will stoutly defend child marriage. The ever controversial Senator stirred the hornet’s nest when 3 years ago he ‘imported’ a 13 year old Egyptian bride and married her in Nigeria after he was forbidden from doing so in Egypt due to the girl’s age. The issue took a new twist when it was learnt that the Senator doled out a princely 100, 000 US Dollars for the girl’s hand in marriage. It would be recalled that he also got married to a 13 year-old child when he was the governor of Zamfara state in 2010
But Nigerians must now be wondering if Nigeria can be more Muslim than Muslim countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, Tunisia, Sudan, Libya, Algeria, Indonesia, Mali, Bosnia and others; who have banned child marriage and pedophilia, with some of them even calling it un-Islamic?
This recent drama in the Senate has also brought to the fore the penchant of the people’s representatives in the government using their positions to press home their selfish interests and desires with no regard for the negative spiral effect of their policies on those they claim to serve. In this context, it is clear that the interest of the girl child and the principle of public good have been sacrificed on the altar of sensual selfishness and adulterated religious claims; as the rudiment of the Sharia the proponents claim to promulgate does not transgress moral dignity. And it is disheartening that all those in support of this clause presently enjoy the best of life, thanks to their education, but have decided to keep the chain that has enslaved their people.
A glance through the list of those who voted “NO” as provided by Senator Babafemi Ojudu (Ekiti Central, ACN), shows a heavy northern bias in favour of the section’s retention. Meanwhile, this could be a major contributor to poverty. The DFID gender report of 2012 has it that over half of women in the northern part Nigeria are married by age 16 and are expected to bear children within the first year of marriage. To the detriment of the society, these minors later grow in mental capability to discover they have been lured into marriage against their wish or for the selfish interests of some individuals. Many of them were betrothed to men older than their fathers. For some, their husbands die while they are still below 18, while some are divorced early with children. Since they have been denied formal and non-formal education that could have given them a competitive and productive advantage, many of them leave their children for hawking and alms begging, while they themselves go into prostitution.
To the health danger this poses to the minors involved, apart from the statistics of still birth which is rampant in babies born to mothers below the age of 18, reports also have it that out of 16 million births by girls below the age of 18, 9 out of 10 of them are married. Suffice to say these girls are at the mercy of Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) which is an abnormal fistulous tract extending between the bladder and the vagina and could be as a result of prolonged labour. On record, Nigeria has 10% of world’s VVF patients with three-quarter of those with the ailment being minors who are not yet mature but have suffered trauma in their first pregnancy.
Without prejudice, it is obvious that the side effect of it is mostly felt in the Northern part of the country.So, for the representatives of the North to have taken such a step at a time when that section of the country is in need of serious attention, shows that we are not yet on track to over-coming our collective developmental problems. On a final note we must begin to adapt our laws and policies to the challenges of the 21st century without buckling to primordial and religious blackmail from the likes of Senator Ahmed Yerima.
Agriculture: Cassava Bread: FG approves N10bn Fund
President Goodluck Jonathan has approved N10 billion as Cassava Bread Fund as part of the current drive by his administration to ensure a more resourceful utilisation of cassava through its processing into cassava bread and other nutritional derivatives in the country.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, broke the news at a meeting with Directors and Value Chain leaders during which he asked them to give account of their stewardships in the last one year.
He disclosed further that the President had also agreed to launch Nagropreneurs’ Youth Employment Agriculture Programme (YEAP) as part of the job creation component of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA). The Nagropreneurs will be involved in the programme of creating employment through Agricultural Value Chains.
Electricity: Eko Disco promises on 20-Hour Power Supply by December
The Chief Executive Officer, Eko Electricity Distribution Company, Engr. Oladele Amoda, has assured customers within its network, of 20 hours stable electricity supply by December. Amoda who gave the assurance at the conferment of his Africa Distinguished Gold Service Award by the Centre for Democratic Governance in Africa, said all distribution companies had been mandated by the Federal Government that all cities across the country be supplied with at least 20-hour electricity starting from December.
“W at Eko Distribution Company also want to key into the Federal Government’s instruction and ensure that customers within our network enjoy 20-hour uninterrupted power supply by December. We urge customers to support the Disco to achieve the projections, the present administration under President Goodluck Jonathan has improved the power sector tremendously to benefit the masses,” he said.
Sport: Naira Rain for Sydney Olympic Gold Medalists
Thirteen years after their remarkable feat, President Goodluck Jonathan has finally rewarded Nigeria’s 2000 Sydney Olympics six-member 4×400 athletics relay team with cash gifts of N5 million for each runner and N7 million for their trainers. This came after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently upgraded the silver medal earlier won by the team to gold after the United States team was stripped of the gold over doping offences.
The two trainers are Innocent Egbunike and Solomon Abari, while the six athletes are Clement Chukwu, Nduka Awaize, Enefiok Udoh Obong, Jude Monye, Fidelis Tafida Gadzama, and late Sunday Bada, who was represented by his wife, Adesumbo. The President also announced that all the six men would be rewarded with National Honours at a later date.
Jonathan: Godfatherism Era Over
President Goodluck Jonathan has pledged his administration’s commitment to help Nigerian youth succeed in their business and other endeavours.
Jonathan said the youth should no longer require godfathers to achieve success in their activities and that the era of `godfatherism’, where some Nigerians secured government opportunities, without merit, was over.
The President who was impressed after inspecting the work done by some youths said “The country should be the godfather of everybody. The government should be the godfather of every Nigerian. We will continue to encourage the young people.”
Politics: FG urges Nigerians in Diaspora to Invest in Centenary City
In the bid to make the centenary celebration a memorable one, President Goodluck Jonathan has called on Nigerians in Diaspora to be agents of change, development and proponents of national economic emancipation and unity and that they should invest in the proposed Centenary City.
Declaring open the 6th Nigeria Diaspora Day celebration in Abuja, the president also urged them to respond positively to the invitation to return and contribute to the development Nigeria.The president through Vice Namadi Sambo, enjoined them to become a part of the nation’s collective efforts in building a better future for present and future generations of Nigerians.
“Today Nigerians in Diaspora must be agents of change and development and proponents of our economic emancipation and unity. The task of taking Nigeria to the pinnacle of development comparable to the major industrialised nations is a task for all of us, not least Nigerians in Diaspora. There is no better time than now and there has been no better opportunity than as currently presented for you to become a part of our collective efforts in building a better future for present and future generations of Nigerians,” he said.
Petroleum: Kogi Offers Dangote Land for Refinery
The Kogi State Government has allocated 20,000 hectares of land to Dangote Group for sugar plantation and sugar refinery, to be sited in the state. Governor Idris Wada, who made the announcement after Dangote Foundation donated N220m to support 22,000 women across the state’s 21 local government areas, promised the company will continue to support the economic development programme in the state.
A recent statement by Dangote said besides the allocation of the land, the President, Dangote Group, AlhajiAlikoDangote, was also made an honorary member of the Kogi State Executive Council.CONTINUE READING