What to look for in a Nigeria university chancellor: a crown or moral standards?

Quite pleased with Habiba’s parents for questioning their emir for his involvement in childbride – now we know childbride is underreported because parents fear their case will likely be swept under the carpet.

Often we hear about parents ‘willingly’ sold their girls out because of poverty but I have never believed that is the whole story, I have always thought many parents who knew better and disagreed with the ancient practice were likely silenced by the powerful people around.

Similar to 14 year old Ese who earlier this year was taken from her parents and married off without the parents’ knowledge, then went to the Emir of Kano’s palace for blessing. Thankfully, the cry of well-meaning Nigerians worked and Ese was released to her family.

Now it is Habiba Isyaku, a 14years old, allegedly abducted by Jamilu Lawal, Emir of Katsina’s aide.

There has been inconsistency with the story as to who really was married to Habiba. Is it the 64 year old Emir or his aide, Jamiu Lawal? (neither makes the story acceptable).

What is clear though is that Habiba is at the palace, now a Muslim convert and a childbride.

Habiba’s parents bravely spoke out that they were not happy about the union as their little girl is still at school and decided to involve Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the area to seek for justice on their behalf.

CAN and the parents went to the palace where the Emir has asked the Katsina Emirate Council to decide the fate of Habiba by asking Habiba three questions.

I wouldn’t be repeating the questions but I find one particularly worth stressing. Habiba was asked if she has started her period to which she answered yes – here it means she is ‘ripe’ enough for marriage, so the council ruled the marriage was ‘irreversible’ – their word.

Good gracious, thank God Habiba is 14. If starting period is the yardstick for marriage age appropriate, then Habiba could have been 9 years old and yet in 2016 The Katsina Council would have said no more case to answer.

Brief research on Emir of Katsina, Abdulmumini Kabir Usman reveals that he was the Chancellor of my local university, Obafemi Awolowo University from 2008 -2015, I had a big lump in my throat reading this, how embarrassing! Does this even make any sense to appoint someone who lived in a state where 67% of girls have no chance of education to such an important honorary position? I am aware that this is a ceremonial position, yet I seriously doubt his moral standards to warrant such a position.

Isn’t it the case that people get honorary positions because of some high moral standards? Why is it that we are blinded by ‘protocols’ thus keep glorifying the ‘unglorifiables’ – time for change from the top?

Childbride is a big issue that should bother all Nigerians, for a starter, we have too many people with this mindset making important decisions, this is why Gender Equal opportunity (GEO Bill) was rejected in the first place and now significantly edited (to appease a few individuals).

Katsina is President Buhari’s home state, seems he has his plate full on his return from Germany. Fingers crossed for Habiba and family.