What is marriage?

Marriage, as it should be, is a union between a man and a woman who have both decided that they want to spend their lives together. But for the speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, marriage is an initiative that is part of his “constituency empowerment project, aimed at alleviating the suffering of the impoverished”. 

The speaker of the Niger state house of Assembly, Hon. Abdulmalik Sarkindajhi over the weekend, disclosed that 100 female orphans who lost their parents in banditry attacks in Maringa Local Government Area of Niger State will be given out in marriage this month. 

He added that all materials needed for the proper marriage to the 100 girls would be provided for, as well as the dowries to the bridegrooms. 

He went further to boldly tell newsmen that it is a project that would be part of his constituency empowerment project.

The Kano state commander general of the Hisbah Board, Sheikh Aminu Daurawa, is expected to attend the event slated for May 24 at Bangi, the headquarters of Mariga Local Government Area. 

The ages of the girls however remains undisclosed. 

First, let us look the the idea of these constituency empowerment projects by legislators in Nigeria. 

The rumors that the 10th Parliament’s National Assembly had set aside millions of Naira for “Constituency Projects,” with an average of N200 million allotted to each senator, had been brewing since earlier this year. 

The Special Intervention Projects (SIP) or Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIPs), these special projects were initiated by the Obasanjo administration and managed by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs now SDGs). This initiative has also been adopted by state houses of assembly. Reports show that hundreds of these projects lie spread across the country as uncompleted or abandoned projects according to BudgIT’s Tracka – a citizen tracking platform for government projects. 

Lately, citizens have criticized the rationale behind the constituency projects, deeming it unnecessary. Senator Shehu Sani has previously stated that he was against the idea of legislators carrying out constituency but said constituents might not know the relevance of lawmakers if they do not construct projects in their constituencies.

Source: Leadership News

The Niger state house of Assembly is the legislative arm of the government of Niger state. While we debate whether or not senators should carry out these projects, the speaker of the Niger state house of assembly has a unique idea for his project.

Banditry is among the many security issues bedeviling the northern region. There has been a significant amount of banditry attacks in Niger state, last month bandits attacked an unspecified number of traders, and customers were feared killed when bandits stormed a market in the Madaka community, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.

The attack happened two days after bandits were said to have attacked another community, Pangu Gari, during which they killed the district head and four other people.

When these attacks occur, numerous persons are affected, but also, women and girls are violated physically and sexually. Many young girls and women abducted by bandits in Nigeria’s northern region often deal with trauma after their sordid experience in the camps of the gunmen.  According to the National Institute of Health, many of the victims of a terrorist attack may suffer the death of family members, close friends, or work colleagues, which can lead to a complicated bereavement with its own elevated risk for depression, self-medication, and substance abuse.

 Banditry has also significantly affected the level of girl child education in Northern Nigeria. 

A recent study revealed The negatively impacted secondary Schools in Niger State include but are not limited to armed Banditry and robbery, kidnapping, communal clashes, farmer-herder conflict, etc. Generally, insecurity has impacted natively on the Secondary Schools in the zone because lives and property were lost, there is low enrolment of students, death of students, low workforce, the effect on student performance, and infrastructural decay. 

Early May, Dinah Lawan, one of the freed Chibok schoolgirls, says she got discouraged from pursuing her education after she was released from captivity. However, Lawan graduated from Notre Dame University in the US and is currently a second-year PhD student in political science at the University of California. She raised concerns over the inability of the government to establish a trauma management program for the girls. 

In 2017, two Chibok schoolgirls who escaped from their Boko Haram abductors in 2014 graduated from a high school in Washington DC, the United States Capital. The two girls, Debbie and Grace, after completing junior year (11th grade) and senior year (12th grade) at a prestigious private international school in the Washington metro area in America.

We also heard about Joy Bishara and Lydia Pogu, ex-students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno state, who escaped from Boko Haram in 2014, graduating from Southeastern University in the United States.

Source: Punch Newspaper

Let us imagine that these girls got married at the time they needed education. While marriage is a beautiful thing for those who desire it, the questions are:

DO ALL THESE 100 GIRLS DESIRE IT RIGHT NOW? WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF GETTING MARRIED? How well do these girls know the grooms? How are the grooms being selected? Is the senator sure that these men are responsible men? Is the senator just randomly doing some matchmaking?

WHY ARE THE AGES OF THE GIRLS UNDISCLOSED? The public should know the age range of these girls, to ensure that they are females mature enough for marriage. Why is it hidden in the first place?

IS IT BEST FOR A PERSON WHO HAS SUFFERED A TRAUMATIZING EVENT TO GET MARRIED AT THIS POINT? According to the National Library of Medicine, a variety of mental health issues resulting from parental loss, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, externalizing and internalizing problems, psychoactive substance use disorder (PAS), and other schizoid, psychotic, and personality symptoms. Grief has long-standing effects on a person’s mental health. What has the Niger state government done to ensure that these girls get help? A person who has experienced loss, and probably in some cases near-death experiences, should she be getting married now? The girls have lost their parents, is this what their parents would have wanted?

IS MARRIAGE THE BEST EMPOWERMENT IDEA THE SENATOR HAS? A few ideas could be setting up a shelter, and providing learning facilities, for both formal learning and vocational learning, building a hospital for people who have been affected by the attacks. In 2019, there was a report that revealed that primary healthcare centers in Niger State are acutely in need of doctors and midwives, thereby putting the few secondary and tertiary institutions in the state under severe pressure.

The solution to helping impoverished people is usually empowerment, but is marriage a form of empowerment that would help alleviate poverty? Should every poor person get married now? 

IS MARRIAGE AN EMPOWERMENT INITIATIVE, WORTHY ENOUGH TO BE A CONSTITUENCY EMPOWERMENT PROJECT? 

Why is the focus not on the solution to banditry as we know that one of the main responsibilities of the government is to protect lives and property?

The minister of women and social development, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye has petitioned the inspector general of police and has sought for an injunction to stop the speaker from marrying off the orphaned girls. 

So, whose team are you on?

Team Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye or Team Senator Abdulmalik?

2 thoughts on “Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, Is marriage the solution for impoverished orphans?”
  1. This is the level of education the speaker has. How will banditry stop when the root cause is not dealt with

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