By Yetunde Arebi
It is obvious, that we are yet to hear the last of the Ese Rita Oruru and Yunusa Dahiru, a.k.a. Yellow. In the next couple of weeks when proper hearing should begin, we are surely going to be entertained to our hearts delight, from the ridiculous to the morbid and out rightly outrageous. But while we await these, there are still several questions in my mind begging for answers that may never be provided, at least, with the way many issues seem to have been twisted and wounded together, leaving one gaping in bewilderment and confusion.
I have heard, witnessed and intervened in several run-away cases and I can assure you that every one has a peculiar twist of its own, Ese’s inclusive. Unfortunately, several issues compound Ese’s case, making it stand out like a sore thumb and a spectacle for the theatres, allowing our hypocrisy as a people rise to a ridiculous level.
While everyone has been trading blames back and forth on this Ese saga, the final buck seem to have been deposited at the stable of the IGP who obviously, by simple reasoning, must have been the last person on the list of persons in authority to be briefed. As I early suggested, it is possible that the Orurus believed it was a case of simple elopement that could be solved amicably without it becoming public knowledge and this must have resulted in their failure to lodge a formal complaint at the nearest Police station to them in Bayelsa State at the beginning. But the gaffs between the Police in Kano, the Emir’s office and the Islamic body trusted with the implementation of the Emir’s directives cannot be swept under the carpet. While it is safe for us all to pass the blame on others but ourselves, it is honourable and dignifying for us as individuals to accept responsibilities for our actions and inactions and to correct whatever we can, especially as a people. In a highly politicised society such as ours where problems have been further compounded by religious and ethnic bigotry and considerations, it is sheer hypocrisy for anyone to ignore the peculiar nature of our justice system.
In a country where we have two different approved laws governing two different parts of the country, surely, this has set the tone for the quality of justice that will be available to the citizens. Pray, was it not under our collective watch that certain “watchers” approved the establishment of Sharia laws in governance of some sections of the country? What happened thereafter? Scores were amputated for committing petty crimes, including the amputation of a child bride who was caught while attempting to run away from her forced marriage, while the rich and powerful got away with dare devil pen robberies and other atrocities? But for the intervention of the International community, Amina Lawal of Katsina State would have been publicly stoned to death on the orders of the Sharia court, despite the protest of local Human Rights activists. Her offense was that she was found guilty of fornication, being a single and pregnant female. Her male co-traveller walked away with only a pat on the wrist, after all, it is a man’s world. Where were we when late Abubakar Audu allegedly took a child bride to add colour to his proposed return as executive governor of Kogi State? Why could we only make noise when Senator Yerima imported a little girl from Egypt as bride under the watch of our NGOs and social critics, but failed to wrestle her out from under Yerima’s babanriga? The Emir himself is allegedly reported to have some skeletons in his rich wardrobe. What did we do about the clause in the amended constitution that a child bride automatically qualifies as an adult by virtue of marriage after it was passed?
Where there are no laws, there are no crimes committed, and the society becomes a jungle and the people, animals. Same applies where there are laws that cannot be effectively enforced to ensure that justice is seen to be done. The truth is, too many cooks are spoiling the broth of Nigeria’s law enforcement and justice system. Here, everyone has taken the law into their own hands, interpreting and administering it as they please. From the traditional local chiefs to Obas, to ethnic militias and local government leaders and thugs, to the local politicians and their leaders, the customary courts, the Sharia courts and influential individuals, all competing with the Police in law enforcement and pursuit of supposed justice, leaving an appalling trail of confusion and oppression everywhere. Yet in the face of all these, some are still calling for the establishment of state police. Haba!
While Nigeria is a signatory to the international Child’s Right Law and have domesticated same at the centre, several years after, many States of the North are yet to comply, citing custom and religion as excuse and challenge from doing so. So far, only 23 of Nigeria’s 36 states have passed the bills into law, Jigawa, Yerima’s haven, Enugun and all states in North Central Nigeria have refused to touch this bill. Besides Lagos, Akwa Ibom and probably Ogun, how many of those who have passed this bill are actually implementing it to the letter? Again, the hypocrisy of the whole religious drama is evident in the extraordinary achievements of the former governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Ibrahim Shehu Shema as opposed to the crass and archaic position of the likes of Senator Yerima in terms of girl child development. While Yerima would rather encourage the enactment and enforcement of laws that will abuse and dehumanise the girl child by marrying them at a tender age, Shema encouraged them to go to school and even supported their parents with an annual grant of N50,000 for each year spent in school. His reasoning was that since the usual excuse for marrying off young girls was lack of funds for their education and up keep, then the N50, 000 should cover for the financial loss of retaining the girls in the parents’ homes. Surely, religion has nothing to do with abuse. Universally, God signifies love and love does not hurt, much more, kill.
PMB’s appoints Orelope-Adefulire as SSA on SDG
While all the drama about the exploits of Ese and Yunusa played out during the week, President Muhammadu Buhari announced on Monday, the appointment of former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Hon. (Mrs.) Victoria Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire as his Senior Special Adviser (SSA) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), also known as the Global Goals. The SDG is designed to build on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) which targets eight anti poverty goals to transform our world by 2030. Going by this Ese case and many more that have sprung up since then, Adefulire’s appointment is not only timely, it is well deserved and fits perfectly the cliché, a round peg in a round role.
A loving, dedicated and focused woman, mother and politician, Adefulire is an achiever of many feats and firsts. A onetime member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, a former Hon. Commissioner in the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation and former Deputy Governor presiding over the Ministry of Women Affairs because of her great knowledge and grasp of the Ministries policies and workings, rather than the usual education portfolio for female deputy governors. There is no doubt that Adefulire is a walking encyclopaedia and authority in the field of women and children development policies as well as poverty alleviation programmes. To her record achievements is the domestication of the Child’s Rights Law in Lagos State, making her ministry, the first to do so in Nigeria.
She designed and made available to every child in Lagos, a simplified version of the Child’s Rights Law, popularly known as the Yellow card. A feat that received the recommendation of the United Nations as well as other International bodies.
To her credit also is the designing of the Red Card, a follow up to the successful and famous Yellow Card. It was also during her tenure that Lagos witnessed the reopening of abandoned vocational centres in many parts of the state, the construction of public toilets at market places, in conjunction with the Ministry of Environment, as well as several other poverty alleviation schemes and girl child empowerment skills. It is my belief that this great woman will bring her expertise and much more to the centre and help to change the fate of our women and children for good in Nigeria. I wish Hon. Orelope-Adefulire a successful outing filled with more laudable firsts and successes. Congratulations ma!