My World

August 3, 2013

How progressive are ‘The Progressives’?

By Muyiwa Adetiba
The interview granted by Senator Sani Yerima to a major newspaper last Saturday did little justice to the issues at hand. I had looked forward to reading it in the hope that certain ‘matters arising’ would be cleared but was very disappointed.

I know there is nothing like a perfect interview. But a good interviewer should put himself in the position of the readers and ask questions that should satisfy the curiosity and interest of the public in the person being interviewed. I finished the interview feeling as unsatisfied as I am sure many readers also felt.

Senator Yerima owes the rest of us explanations on certain issues ranging from sharia to child marriage. I was hoping the interview would shed light on the personality of our esteemed Senator who is not shy to act out his beliefs even when they are at variance with our laws and the constitution.
It was interesting to learn for example, that he has a wife who is a medical doctor. But the interviewer did not follow up to ask if he married her as a 13-year old and then allowed her to study after child bearing. We also did not learn what happened to the 13-year old import that caused so much furore a couple of years ago.

Has she given birth? Has she gone back to school? Is she being allowed to dream and work towards the fulfilment of that dream? Or is she just a sex slave? What is the relationship between that child who would never experience the joy and heartaches of adolescent life and the medical doctor?

I would also have loved to know how many daughters Senator Yerima has and what the fate of those girls is. Would a wife who is a medical doctor allow her daughters to be married off at 13 knowing the health implications to an unripe mind and body? Would she fight or simply acquiesce to a selfish interpretation of an ancient religious dogma? How many ‘mothers’ with VVF has she treated at her place of work? How many child mothers who are having a hard time coping with life has she met?

In the interview, Senator Yerima talked about tolerance to other religions. In other words, he respects the rights of other religions but does not recognise the rights of the female gender much less those of the girl child. He said a child who is old enough to menstruate is old enough to marry. Really? In this age of improved nutrition where girls start menstruating as early as 11, 12? At this point, I thought the interviewer would ask for the Senator’s definition of marriage. Is it a one-way sex adventure? a ‘bang, bang, thank you maam’? or that of mutual consent? Is a wife an object of gratification and nothing more? Does this senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria believe in values like consent, companionship, friendship, mutual respect and tolerance in marriage? Not to talk about attraction and love?

Senator Yerima lives a schizophrenic life. A part of him lives in a dark, anachronic age where women are regarded as appendages to men. Another part lives in the age of internet and democracy.

He put on that democratic hat when he said, straight faced, that he would not mind contesting for the Presidency of Nigeria. He deferred, he said, to General Buhari the last time and would defer only to him. He would, he said, throw his hat into the ring the minute he knows General Buhari will not contest. And under what umbrella? The newly registered All Progressive Congress of course. So you ask yourself what this man, who lives in a time-warp.