Posts Tagged ‘Sani Yerima’

Before you get on to this post, guess the newest guest writer for Foresight For Development? You guessed right, moi!! So grateful for another opportunity to stretch my imagine, hone this gift I have.

So, the theme this month was on the future of gender equality, and my thoughts are below. Originally published here, on FFD’s blog. Check out my profile, and my thoughts on futuristic thinking too!


Everything I wanted to do as a child, my parents encouraged and pushed me to achieve – every single thing, without question. From tumbling about with the boys, to drawing, to entertaining talks about my ambitions that ranged from being a surgeon, to being a builder (I’ve always been fascinated with the way mortar takes shape), to being a truck driver. Anything I wanted to be, I was told I could be.
As I grew older, my ambitions changed dramatically, but it was not until university that I fully grasped that there might be things I wouldn’t be able to do because I was female. Obviously, growing up I was aware of cultural divisions of roles, where women tend to the home and the men provide, where women are forbidden to eat certain parts of animals (example, gizzard in chicken) because it was reserved for men – those kinds of things.

In 300 level at university, departmental student representatives were going to be elected, and I felt I had a good chance of getting elected. That is, until I was called aside by a lecturer I really admired and told I could contest the vice-presidential slot, because the presidency was ordinarily reserved for males. They said that I would expose myself to unnecessary attention if I went for the number one spot. I was shocked, confused, and upset (in that order), and I ended up shelving the idea. Why? Because I didn’t understand why I should come off second best to a man.

Almost ten years later, following thousands of gender equality conferences, models, and books, women are still subtly (or outright) being told (or shown) they have to work almost twice as hard to maintain their number two spots, let alone going for number one. As Beyoncé said, “we need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality – it isn’t a reality yet”.

The third of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) is to promote gender equality and empower women. Why? Because equality in itself is a human right, the right to not be discriminated against on grounds of gender.

Closer home, at least 49% of the 170 million people in Nigeria is female. Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution also provides that no one shall be discriminated against. Yet, the disparity in empowerment is as stark as it is unfortunate. Violent crimes (rape, abuse); child marriage; playing second fiddle to boys concerning education; widowhood practices; and limitations on property and rights to inheritance, culture and traditions, all work hard to erode this right.

What’s the way forward?

Politically, there is the 35% women affirmative action plan, based on the 2006 National Gender Policy that dictates that 35% of government posts should be filled by women. President Goodluck Jonathan in the Midterm Report of the Transformation Agenda (May 2011 – May2013) says his government has achieved 33%. This is a good first step but it is more surface covering than addressing the real roots of this problem. Women are still largely underrepresented, considering that only 25 of the 360 members of the National Assembly are female.

Our government must take a strong stand against laws that infringe on the liberties of women, not by saying they are taking a stand, but by commissioning research into the Constitution and abolishing sections that do not protect women. For example, according to Section 282(2) of the Penal Code, “Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife is not rape, if she has attained puberty”.

The government must also enforce the laws against child marriages, especially in the North where it is most prevalent; as well as consider the 2003 Child Rights Act that criminalizes marriage below the age of 18, which it has not yet adopted. Politics (and the need to remain popular) must give way to morality and the rule of law.

The Nigerian government must also harmonize efforts to empower women across the 36 states of the country. It should concentrate more on the rural areas where “54 million of Nigeria’s 80.2 million women live and work, and constitute 60-705 of the rural workforce”, according to the 2012 DFID Gender report on Nigeria.

Education as we all know gives everyone a better chance in life, and as the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon notes, educating women is the “smartest global investment”.

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan echoed that in May when he met with Girl Child Education campaigner, Malala Yousafzai. He said, “I personally believe that since about 50% of our population are female, we will be depriving ourselves of half of our available human resources if we fail to educate our girls adequately or suppress their ambitions in any way. We are therefore taking steps to curb all forms of discrimination against girls and women, and have also undertaken many affirmative actions on their behalf.”

The government must now go beyond lip service and half-measures to actually provide education of great quality to females – great education devoid of tutors who tell young girls not to dream and aspire for positions because of their gender.

Today is not a good day, not a good day at all. I’m so angry, I could hurt someone! ‘Calm down’, I can hear you say, ‘you know you’re a Fairy’. Today is however not the day for calming down…..maybe I should tell you why I’m upset.

I’m not upset because of the environmental disaster the BP fiasco has become (279 sea turtles, 658 birds, etc have found dead…..and counting); I’m not angry that Dimeji Bankole is under some heat from his colleagues; I’m not even angry that Cameroon (which has a bigger farce called democracy and is just as corrupt as Nigeria) had uninterrupted light supply for the 12 days I was there, and not half or quarter current either!

I’m angry that the rate of child molestation/abuse is rising, and at a very alarming rate! My friend Hajo says it’s not higher than it’s ever been; people are just speaking up now. I’m angry that the innocence of little children is being stripped crudely by the very people the Fairy Godfather put in charge of them; you and me. More despicable are the biological relatives that abuse these little ones.

From the beginning of the year, the stories began to trickle in. As a matter of fact, from January 2003 when The Sun started as a weekly in Nigeria, they told us Nigeria was slowly but surely becoming the next Sodom and Gomorrah but no; we said it was The Sun’s style to be alarmist and sensational (and I agree that they can be). Our people however say that when more than two people pass and look at you strangely, it’s time to find a mirror. I strongly believe Nigeria needs a large mirror, the largest she can find because our children are no longer safe.

Forgive me for not wasting my fairy ink on definitions of words like paedophile (paedophilia), molestation, abuse, etc. Sometimes I think that’s one of our major problems; defining, finding synonyms etc when we know exactly what is being discussed. I also won’t bore you with like happenings in Europe, Asia, the Americas, etc because honestly, it’s not our business; our house is engulfed in an inferno; it would be plain silly to checking the strength of the fire (if any) at our neighbours’. Ok?

Starting from the Yerima case a couple of months old now, almost everyday I have seen in print one case of abuse or the other and I must tell you, the gap between the ages of the children and the adults can almost rival the distance between the heavens and the earth!

There’s the case (currently in court) of a 4year old who has been defiled repeatedly her 45 year old uncle who is the principal of a nursery and primary school. What? A 4year old is still in the babbling stage; what kind of pleasure can be found there?

An 8year old also defiled by this pervert was taken to the hospital by her mother after the case blew open; her mother will not be pressing charges however because of possible stigma. When the good people (young people like you and me) went to the hospital to visit the 4year old, the doctors asked, ‘which of them’?

A 9year old won’t be getting any justice soon because the police station where the 32 year old who violated her was reported said the little girls’ statement is missing so they cannot do anything. And they let the man go. What is this world coming to?

There’s also the case of the 7year old defiled by a 49year old. When he was arrested, he told the Police that he’s a widower. So what? He also said he used his fingers not his penis, like it makes his crime any less vile. Contradicting his story are medical reports plus the fact that the little girl now has a foul odour and discharge from her privates. Quick question (for the guys); can the fingers under any circumstance produce sperm or other seminal fluids?

Most distressing (and the reason I started writing this) is a report I saw on 234next of a Mr. Phillip Benson whose 12year old daughter is now pregnant or him. Guess who found out? The little girls’ teacher. The father (who is separated from the girls’ mom) said the 12year old seduced him, that it started the day he woke up in the middle of the night to find her beside him, naked, so he touched her. How on earth can a 12 year old seduce a 49year old and her father at that? The girl on the other hand says that it’s been going on for two years and her father always threatens her with starvation and death; giving her drugs and hot drinks after every sexual encounter. Haba! Did I add that the Police said they will conduct investigations in to the case of ‘alleged abuse’? Alleged? The 12year old is visibly pregnant, the father has confessed and it is still ‘alleged’? God save us, but please start from the Police Force!

Good people, what do we do? Why is this happening over and over again? This is the height of depravity, the lowest anyone can sink to. What is the pleasure to be derived from a child? It’s complex enough with a fellow adult; why go to a child? And mind you, statistics show that for every case revealed (brought to light), there are thousands unreported.

In Africa (especially), it is believed that if a HIV positive person sleeps with a virgin (and the younger the more potent), he/she will be cured; in the year 2000, this fact contributed immensely to the over 67, 000 new cases of HIV in South Africa alone. Uganda passed a law in 2007 making it a crime (punishable by death on conviction) for a HIV positive person to wilfully infect a minor via sexual intercourse. Germany and many states in America are working on approving chemical castration using the drug Depo – Provera (besides stiff incarceration) for offenders.

In Nigeria where the Convention on the Rights of the Child has been domesticated to become the Child Rights Act (2003), punishments for rape have the option of fines. Imagine a N100, 000 fine for a man who used a screwdriver to poke around a girls’ vagina! Also, there are no punishments for forced oral and anal sex, finger insertion etc. Note also that 49 out of 50 victims are hushed by their parents for various reasons so I’m referring to the tiny percentage that actually comes forward.

While we wait for our government to get their act together (starts from harmonizing and passing the13 bills relating to the rights of women and children, which are pending at the National Assembly), we can protect our little ones thus. By the way, these bills are pending yet our lawmakers are lobbying to increase their take home to 42million naira per quarter? I digress.

We can protect them by

  • Teaching them about their body parts, emphasizing that they should resist unnecessary touching by anybody.
  • Teaching them to yell or run if they are faced with an uncomfortable situation, even if it’s by ‘uncle’.
  • Show any gift given to them by uncles, aunties, teachers, anybody to mommy and daddy.
  • Teaching them to talk to mommy or daddy about anything they are unhappy or uncomfortable about.
  • Teaching them acceptable behaviour; sitting with the legs closed, etc, so they don’t put themselves at risk unnecessarily.

While we do that, as many as can be present at the Nassarawa High Court, Mararaba on the 23rd of June for the hearing on the case of the 4year old, please be there, this has got to stop!

Erm……thinking of the age of his next baby love?

Before you start on this, this is my first chronicle on this site and I’m really excited about it! And, my sincere apologies for bringing this a tad late; you will agree with me that the past couple of days in Nigeria have not been without incident. And I also do not like to write about things I do not have full information about (even though there are some things we will never understand till the hereafter). Ok, I can hear you; I’ll get on with it already.

Recently I was at a friend’s house and she was trying to instill some discipline in her niece, a perky 12 year old and she said “better stop rolling your eyes at me and give me the respect I’m due, you don’t know that if I was promiscuous by now I would have someone your age.” I laughed so hard that day; it’s amazing what our minds whip up sometimes!

Today however, I am not laughing. Not because I had a horrible day or anything but because I bet that the little Egyptian darling Honorable Sani Ahmed Yerima acquired for himself would be able to make that boast in approximately 13 years, and not because she is promiscuous but because her innocence has been slain on the altar of personal issues like pedophilia, perverseness, and insatiable lust fueled by a contradictory and therefore ineffective constitution, poverty and hypocrisy.

When this story broke, I thought it was one of them jokes because you will agree with me that Nigeria can be very funny. Days went by and it suddenly dawned on me that the 49 year old son of God actually
1. Traveled to Egypt, therefore abandoning his constituency and his duties as a lawmaker (or maybe he was ‘bbing’ the House).
2. Acquired wife/ baby/ child; by Jove I wonder what the criteria for the selection was
3. Brought the baby/ child/ wife back to Nigeria to marry because Egypt doesn’t allow underage marriages. Actually, Egyptian law forbids marriage where the man is more than 25 years older than the woman. 49-13 (or 14) =
4. Paid a dowry (slave-fee) of 100,000 dollars (about 15 million naira) to the wife/ baby/ child’s family. It would be nice to note that his driver in Egypt is the father of the 13year old.
5. Now he’s saying the media attention he is getting is an invasion of his privacy, he’s not going against any law in Islam and the girl is 14, not 13.

Ok seriously, invasion of privacy? Last I checked when you defecate in public you automatically give everyone viewing rights and by God this brand of feces looks horrible, especially when this senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has a peculiar taste for children he swore to protect. A Federal Republic that has a Child Rights Act’ that only 16 states have passed (including Abuja where the wedding to a minor took place) and is excluded in Zamfara State that this Honorable Senator governed for eight years.

The first child bride that we heard of was Hauwa in 2006, she was 15; he divorced her just before she turned 17. Now he has picked a 13 year old. Ok so he says she’s 14, same ten and ten pence to me. Is it me or do we all agree that he is masking a certain physiological defect? Forgive me but I think if you have small pencil you’d rather you had a small pencil case to put it in………and that’s all I have to say about that.

This Honorable Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria also says he’s not breaking any law of Islam. Let’s start from the age old argument; did the Quran actually say a man should marry four women? Apart from the injunction in Al Quran 4:3 that says he must be able to share his love and affections equitably amongst all the women (and says in a later verse that it is impossible to do so), these are the conditions under which it might be accepted.
• In times of war (back in the day, if there were 200 men and 200 women in a community and the 200 men went to war and only 50 come back, they could take multiple wives so everyone would get married)
• If the woman cannot have children (you need to take permission from her to take another wife)
• If she is sick and cannot have sex (over a period of time)
• Poverty (it’s acceptable to take other wives to take care of them if there’s extreme poverty in the land.

So, I agree the little girl’s family is poor but does that make him their savior? I can almost bet little Miss Elady has elder sisters or aunties, why not marry them? Then he says (and I quote), “Our beloved Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) was given Aishat to wife, at the age of nine years so I am not breaking any laws”. Ok, even if his middle name was Mohammed, does that make him the Prophet(peace be upon him)? That would be like a Mexican named Jesus hanging on the cross only because Jesus Christ did so (or may be because he is Christian).

Correct me but technically Miss Elady is Yerima’s sixth wife; she’s only number four because he divorced two to make way for her and still be within the confines of Islam. The only problem with that is this; Senator Sani Ahmed Yerima is 49 years old and he’s been with six women so far; their ages and the duration of the marriages is obviously reducing, and drastically at that. How many would he have been with by the time he’s 70?

“The Child Right Act in section 21 prohibits child marriage; that nobody marries a child, whether boy or girl, under the age of 18,”, “Section 22 prohibits the betrothal of a child under the age of 18. It makes our laws a joke if the person breaking the law is someone sitting at the highest law making body of this country (also known as the people who made the law)!

Let’s call a spade a spade and not a big spoon; this marriage is a sham, a crime actually that Senator Sani Ahmed Yerima should be punished for. Only issue with that is a National Assembly that for days denied knowledge of the wedding (when a good number of them attended), finally receives the petition from equally questionable members of the House (because of all the media attention), and then hands it over to a committee to look into the ‘immediate and remote’ issues around it. How many other such committees have been created to look into the various ills that plague Nigeria? What results have we seen?

Wait o, what if we had voted him in as President when he contested? Just asking.