The furore raised over this story reminded me of my childhood in Ilorin. I can remember watching a young girl of about 13 trying to escape her nuptials by fleeing the joyous scene on foot, while several young men chased and down and brought her back to complete the happy task. I can also remember seeing her around as she progressed through marriage having about 3 or 4 children.
What you may ask is the point of these nostalgic reminiscences? My point is that this ‘child’ marriage issue been going on for ages, generations even. It has never needed legal validation so why seek it now? That is the question we should be asking ourselves. This is my own answer.
I start from the premise that contrary to public opinion, our politicians are EXTREMELY smart. They are so sharp, they can cut diamond. Let us never be in doubt about that. Calling them names like clueless and silly and idiot, points the finger back at ourselves while they laugh all the way to bank. So why were our politicians so eager to amend the age at which one can renounce Nigerian citizenship?
We should be careful about how we address these issues, because there are a lot of subtleties in it. The amendment says that anyone can renounce citizenship as long as they are married. My submission is that this is a backdoor method to reduce the age of majority. One of the duties which come with the age of majority is the right to vote. Imagine then what would happen if ANY married person can vote. This will not have much effect in the South of Nigeria, but in the North, it would increase the electorate, in my own estimation, by 25%. This is what is at stake here, electoral power and not paedophilic lust, though if the latter is satisfied this would be a small bonus.
What has happened is a magician’s trick, a case of misdirection, while you watch the flourish of his left hand, the card is concealed in the right. While he blows a noisy flute with his lips, his feet perform the ‘magic.’ Knowing the track record of Nigerians in ‘support’ of issues, they know this will die down in a maximum period of three weeks. Remember fuel subsidy, aluu 5, abia gang rape, even MKO Abiola who people claim not to remember. I will remind us in 3 weeks exactly and we shall see if we have forgotten or not. Misdirection!
On the issue of the child marriage, it is amazing the see the faulty arguments being bandied in support, especially the one which uses ‘I live in a city,’ we are replying the conclusion without faulting the premises. Someone said ‘which do you prefer prostitution, rape or child marriage?’ my answer is, why are those my only choices? That is a false choice argument. If someone says which do you prefer to be shot in the head, heart or stomach? Your reply would be nowhere, thank you very much! Take your gun and go somewhere else!
My conclusions therefore are as follows; there is a sinister reason behind this debate and we are being misdirected to look in the wrong direction. Secondly, children are being given out in marriage every day, to do something about it we need sustained protest and not the flash-in-the-pan antics that we are fond of adopting. Finally, let us be objective and reflective in our view of issues. Don’t always argue what your adversary wants you to argue, but look to the bigger picture, look through his eyes. Do not underestimate. Beware misdirection.