By Ebele Orakpo

‘We have really gone nuts in Nigeria,” sighed Mary this Monday morning in the Ikeja-bound commuter vehicle as the issue of child marriage was raised.

“Oh, that was a very long time ago. Are you just realising that? We are oldies in the crazy business. We are experts at majoring in minors,” replied Abel.

“For heaven’s sake, we have more pressing issues. The house is on fire and our leaders are busy chasing rats. Incredible!” exclaimed TJ

“Bros, I disagree totally with you. The issue of child marriage is a serious one. We are talking about the life of the girl-child here. It’s like someone else running the life of the hapless child, determining what happens to her and whatever pains and deprivations she will have to endure in the process is not their business,” said Ngozi.

Unfairness to the girl child

She continued: “To be honest with you, they are being very unfair to the girl-child, giving her out in marriage to someone old enough to be her father or grandfather. Did they think of the thousands suffering from Vesicovaginal fistula, VVF, as a result of carrying pregnancy and giving birth at a very tender age? Once it happens, the poor girl who must have lost the child also loses her husband, family and friends because no one wants to be close to her as a result of the terrible odour oozing out of her. Most of these girls were suffering in silence until some White missionaries came to their rescue. With the assistance of some Nigerians, they worked round the clock treating and rehabilitating these girls. Now some insensitive lawmakers want to add to their job?”

Replied Abel: “Our leaders should lead by example. All those who voted in favour of the motion should first give out their underage daughters in marriage, then others can follow their lead.”

“If I may ask, at what age is a person considered an adult?” asked Moyo. Oh, different ages – from 16-21 and sometimes 12-17 for juvenile offenders. So I think the law should be clear on who is an adult,” answered Ibrahim.

“Imagine some saying that once a girl starts menstruating, she is an adult. Today, some girls start at nine years of age; so is a nine-year-old girl an adult?” asked Feyi.

Asked Uche: “What laws are really governing a sovereign nation like Nigeria?”

Replied Tunde: “The Nigerian Constitution, customary and Sharia laws and as long as the three run pari-passu, there will always be this kind of problem.”

“But why should the Senate even entertain such motion? The Senate governed by Sharia law?” asked Mary to which Tunde replied thus: “Someone raised the issue and so they had to tackle it.”

“I think we are missing something here. They were not talking about marriage, they were talking about the legal age at which a Nigerian can renounce his/her citizenship,” said Becky.

“So how did the marriage thing come in?” asked Moyo.

“May be because Yerima was involved,” replied Abel tongue-in-cheek. “Anyway, whatever it was, is the legal age for renouncing citizenship the most pressing issue in Nigeria? There are more pressing issues that need to be amended in the Constitution for crying out loud!” said Mercy.

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