16th May, 2012
Divorcees and widows in Kano northwest Nigeria, have continued to applaud the 100-couple mass wedding organized by Kano state government to mark the World Family Day on Tuesday.
The Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of Voice of Widows, Orphans and Divorcees in Nigeria, VOWAN, Hajiya Atine Abdullahi told P.M.NEWS that the success of the mass wedding gave her a hope that someday, the pains and agonies of widows and divorcees would be assuaged.
VOWAN, for more than half a decade, has been championing the cause of widows and divorcees in northern Nigeria.
In collaboration with the Hisbah Board, the nongovernmental organization identified 1000 widows and divorcees who have been penciled down for marriage in Kano.
On Tuesday, the first phase of the arranged marriage sponsored by Kano state government and anchored by Hisbah Board took place at the Kano Central Mosque where the Emir of Kano and his Emirate Council, religious leaders and government officials witnessed what has been described as the first biggest mass wedding in West Africa.
According to Atine, a divorcee, “this is a sign that one day, the issue of failed marriages and the spate of divorce will be a thing of the past in Kano. For the fact that all stakeholders are coming together to fight this scourge, this means that there is hope.”
Jamila Haruna, a participant in the marriage scheme gave praises to God for the success of the mass wedding.
“Though I could not make it among the first 100 people what we have witnessed here today (Tuesday) indicates that divorcees in Kano have a chance to build families again. I am earnestly waiting for my own time and I must express my gratitude to the Government of Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso for sponsoring and supporting this programme; and also I am grateful to the Hisbah management for making it a success.”
The 35-year old Jamila went down memory lane as she recalled her bitter experience in a union she described as failed and irreconcilable marriage and prayed for God’s guidance as she hoped to be united with a new husband.
Her story: “I always feel pains in my heart whenever I remember my marriage to him. I would not want to mention his name but he is my cousin—a son to my father’s sister. My father, the late Alhaji Aliyu Haruna sponsored our marriage in January 1994 when I was 16 years old. Our marriage lasted for 17 years and collapsed in December 2010. We had five children—three boys and two girls.
“We lived happily for a few years until when he had problem at his office. He was a junior immigration officer; and he was affected when the Federal Government sacked all school certificate holders. For five months, he was not paid his entitlements. To help the family, I engaged myself in petty trading and catering services at restaurants. I used to brew local soft drinks like Sobo and ginger and supply to big restaurants where in most cases I served in the kitchen; and all I was doing was to make sure that we had our daily bread and catered for the children’s school fees.
“When the condition became unbearable, I decided to sell the house we were living in which my father built for me. I sold the house at N1.2 million. We used N200, 000 to buy some things we needed as a family while I used the rest to build another smaller house. In the process, the new house was roofed and there was no money to continue the project.
“Then they paid him his entitlement and he gave me a loan of N300,000 so that we can complete the building project. He used to remaining money to buy a Golf Car which he was using to ply Kano/Abuja.
“I was happy that, at least, my husband had once again, gotten a means of livelihood. I thought things would change for the better, but to my consternation, the situation got worse. Each time he came back from work, it would be nagging and accusations. If he had a problem on the road, he would accuse me and my mother. He would say my family brought him bad luck, and this is a man who got a job at Nigeria Immigration service through my father’s influence.
“This is a man who fed from my mother’s pot and yet he would continue to accuse a woman that was investing so much resources and care to build our family, of being behind his ill-luck! I could not bear that because I love and cherish my mother so much and would not want anything to give her heartbreak.
“We were 18 in my family, 16 of my brothers and sisters died, leaving only me and my elder brother. My mother, up till this moment is yet to be relieved of the shock of losing 16 children and a husband. And it would be suicidal to continue to live with a man who never had sympathy for a widow that was helping him.
“At this point, the marriage had become worse than death. I had preferred to die than to continue staying with him. How can I keep on staying with a man who did not only hate me but hated the innocent children—product of his own blood! The experience was like hell, it was, indeed, unbearable.
“Hisbah dissolved the 17-year marriage in 2010, and I felt relieved. He demanded before the Hisbah authorities that the five children remain in my custody. When they asked him what he would be contributing to the up-keep of the children, he said he would be paying N20 to each of the five children on daily basis, an amazing promise he refused to keep.
“A year after, I got angry and took him to court where he promised to give the children N2000 each per month for their feeding and also pay their school fees—that he didn’t keep.”
The Director-General of Hisbah, Malam Abbah Sa’id Sufi said he was elated at the success of the whole exercise and dedicated to the resolve of Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso to ensure that the less privileged in the society are given a sense of belonging.
“The Kano state government sponsored the whole exercise. There are other concerned individuals who also complemented government’s effort. While the government released the sum of N15 Million to sponsor the exercise, Alhaji Ishyaku Rabiu also donated N1 million for payment of their dowry.
“The Hisbah Board remains grateful to the Emirate Council, and our father in particular, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero for his full support of the programme. It was indeed, a huge success.”
After the marriage exercise, Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso had a meeting with the new couples at Government House where he distributed house-hold materials to them and also counselled them on the need to live happily and peacefully as husbands and wives.
By Maduabuchi Nmeribeh/Kano