Aisha Buhari’s Statement; The True Intent By Dr. Amina Aminu Doraiyi & Raliat Mohammed
The wife of the President-elect, Mrs Aisha Buhari, was in Buenos Aires, Argentina recently to attend the Global Women Conference. In her presentation on the danger that women and the girl child contend with on daily basis in our world today, she pushed for a global legislation against child marriage.
This clarion call to build a more inclusive, non-gender based nation globally, was misconstrued and misinterpreted by some Nigerians. The new Nigeria we desire is one that promotes economic growth, equity and fairness for all, irrespective of class, age or gender. A Nigeria that promotes learning and encourages the education of both young boys and girls alike. Mrs Buhari spoke as the wife of Nigeria’s President-elect, and her opinion must be all inclusive without bias towards any religion.
The law of the land actually states that a child should be 18 years before marriage. The child rights act forbids marriage earlier than when a child attains adulthood. It is well documented that child marriage has been responsible for many ills in the society, including health complications, social and economic stratification among others.
Even when religion is used as a defence for some national issues, in this case Mrs Buhari is propagating education, which Christianity, Islam and all other faiths also promote. Based on this, there is a clear need for Nigeria as a nation to uphold the tenets of its constitution in relation to education, which is also in line with the major religions. In doing that, we should accept the wife of the President elect’s proposition of ensuring girls at least conclude secondary school before they get married and by that time they would have reached 17 years of age.
Part of the change we should be ready for and require in this country is to take bold steps such as this one that will move us away from the status quo. We cannot be doing the same thing and expect different results.
With the high rate of divorce cases, social inequity and unemployment in our country, the girl child should be encouraged to at least complete secondary school before getting married, otherwise we have a social tsunami in the making in our dear country.
We should be mindful of encouraging illiteracy among girls because this will surely widen the social gap between the rich and the poor. Obviously, the more privileged in the society will continue to not only ensure their girls complete secondary school, but they will even send them for degrees and post graduate studies in the best of schools irrespective of their religion. On the other hand, girl children from less privileged homes who need to be educated for their families to cross the social divide, need people like Mrs Buhari to speak up for them.
It is worthy to note that some of the people complaining about this proposal have not and do not intend to marry off their own children at 13 years. One wonders why anyone would want to continue digging holes for the less privileged while putting ladders in place for their own family to step up higher.
We must have a rethink, rise above sentiments and give women their proper right of place in the family. As Oprah Winfrey eloquently puts it, when you educate a woman, you educate a nation.
It was a collective effort fighting for change, but for this change to translate into actionable objectives, rooted on results, we must support a shift from the status quo.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.