Advancing our Society through Advancing the Girl ChildProf.R.A Ipinyomi Monday, July 22nd, 2013
By: Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
Recently some group of people passed some information around Nigeria media reminding us to insist together that our daughters should be sent to school and not to infant marriage homes. The originators of this piece of information had expected the Senate of Nigeria to support the girl-child education such that the Nigeria constitution would have made it mandatory for every child to remain in school until age 18. If approved any child age 18 or below who got married would have been unlawful and illegal. Instead of approving that the Nigeria Senate gave a legal approval for marriage of underage girls. The society is then left in some confusion about the allegiance of Nigerian Senators who prefer sending underage females to marriage homes rather than to schools where they may mature further.
The confusion is coming at the heels of Nigeria dichotomous society where we see ourselves first as a Muslim before a Nigerian, as a religious person before politics. Some individuals went further to equate early marriages of the girls to doing God’s will in an effort to make heaven. That is they see it as a sacrament and sanctity of our relationship to almighty God. The only further confusion is that most of the Nigeria Senators voting for child marriages have their own daughters and relations in Western institutions overseas where they are exposed to every side of life. The challenges of our time obviously include our faith. In fact in my own thinking three areas are most needed for parents to endow their children, sons or daughters, namely (a) good education that leads to economic and social independence, (b) for me a genuine Christian faith that frees the mind and pointing the soul rightly, (c) a happy and successful marriage life. I thank God I have these and passing same to my children. Hence teenage marriages and further education is a function and matter of balance, time and priority setting. It is not a religion unless for only people using religion for relevancy seeking, escapism, or sympathy seekers.
We had expected the house to support keeping the children mandatory in school till age 18 when they are consider adults in Nigeria and can vote. Such a provision should have been enshrined in our constitution. By age 18 years a girl may be considered able to decide but not free from parental cares and attention. The Nigeria Senators who voted against the bill and for teenage marriages might have missed the opportunity of developing and running a responsible family building, matured people friendly relationships, and inclusive partner participation. Their mind was far more on their perceived theocratic agenda nursed in tradition and practice over years rather than concerns for their daughters. Senators could have gone for a survey of targeted population’s opinion which is still available to them. Senators and all out law makers may use proactive approaches and our opinions as part of their efforts to arrive at optimum and public desires and preferences. The whole world is moving on a fast lane on all issues and accommodating same-sex marriage, just because of public preferences rather than individual politicians. Of course the individual leaders like Obama and others have to take courageous decisions at the end. Certainly we can’t move Nigeria society backward several generations as they want to do to us.
The challenges facing the Nigeria society of our time include (a) tackling the massive unemployment for university graduates and others in addition to general economy downturn that is destroying our beautiful nation, (b) building globalization and international relationships with other nations in collaboration, cooperation or just for note comparisons amongst nations for national development, (c) recognising and accommodation of new social orders like marriages, immigrations, research into climates and nature, (d) ending the incessant strikes by worker Unions like ASUU, ASUP, NUT, and others who receive peanuts whereas Nigeria Senators going home with several millions monthly, (e) and pursuance of space exploration, earth resource managements, land management for our ever growing population, population control and the like for mutual benefit.
Nigeria law makers must show extreme care, caution and concern for the population on which they govern. The situation ongoing in Egypt is to be an eye opener and not just Obama’s rejecting to deal with several African leaders. Nigeria used to be part of USA foreign policy and interest in Africa beyond our oil and trade. At present only a few of their drones are hovering over our land space daily without our permission. Our politicians and elected representatives seem to have their preferred attentions on Boko Haram, teenage marriages, corruption, re-cycling over-used politicians, registration of more political parties, and government reneging on agreements it reached with unions like ASUU and the others. The sign coming from Egypt is very clear. Military may not take over your elected officers’ positions directly but they will assist the youth and Nigeria librals to drive away elected politicians and America would not call that a coup d’état. They only prevention is the timely installation of sensitive good governance. Secondly we must separate religion from pure politics henceforth, where there would be conflicts we should give in to public opinion. Yet for me as a conservative Christian I may never give in to same sex marriages or teenage marriages but I am prepared to understand the public. Let us collectively insist that our daughters must go to school. Mine went to school and graduated with a Ph.D. (Law) and now married. Let yours go and God will help you through.
Prof. R.A. Ipinyomi,
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