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Opinion

Desperate to Marry but not Marriageable: The Fate of Repentant Boko Haram Ladies -By Abdulkadir Salaudeen

This is the only way (I know) to express their condition. I wish I can express it better. It is pathetic and sad. And it is the consequence of our inaction in the face of injustice. We were all silent (and still silent) when some few individuals, which we chose to lead us, make looting of our resources a hobby. Looting in Nigeria by our rulers—and those in their inner cabinets—has become a hubby. It has made life unlivable. Not only that, it has denied common Nigerians that blissful sleep that would have enabled them to dream of a bright future. Religion has been successfully used to silence critics. Even when rulers are anything but religious, religion will always protect them.

“Rulers must be praised no matter how pharaonic they are” is now a sacred instruction. Any infraction of that instruction leads one automatically to Hell. This has been mainstreamed into our psyches and, consequently, everyone is cowed into submission.

Since rulers are not checked and could not be checked, balance must definitely be lost. Justice must be trampled upon. We shall all suffer the repercussions of government injustice even if we (the common people) are just or think to be just.
I was emotionally moved when I read about their desperation to marry (or is it to re-marry?). I mean those repentant Boko Haram ladies. Bad governance and bastardization of religion did to them what happened to them. I doubt if the ideology of Boko Haram will appeal to a large number of people (as it did) if we had responsible leadership in the country.

It is hard for someone who is gainfully employed and who could dream of a brighter future to fall in with Boko Haram and the ideology it promotes. But it is easy to convince the unthinking people that education is haram because the educated class are the ones tormenting us. This is how Boko Haram started.

Those who were disenchanted with the government easily found new avenue to express their disenchantment through the violent group that promised them Paradise full of virgins. This is tantalizing! It is easy, of course, for the youth who are hungry for marriage but could not even find the means to feed themselves due to poverty to be tantalized with such promise. One would think these Boko Haram ladies were also promised virgins in Paradise. For, how would a lady choose to live a strange life in forest? This is what poverty and ignorance do to their victims.

It is dangerous to be poor and ignorant at the same time. Responsible government, anywhere in the world, would do everything doable to alleviate poverty and educate its citizens. Many rulers at the state level, especially in the north, failed to do just this. Some of the past governors are about to be probed. One of them, having allegedly laundered about eighty billion naira, has been declared wanted by EFCC.

It is safe to say that some clerics are already praying for these unconscionably corrupt governors—to triumph over the law—in order to enjoy their looted loot. Religion must defend them—in power or out of power. That “you must stand by your brethren in the name of religion; no matter what” is the calamity that befalls us.

Now these ladies in their hundreds (or probably thousands) are out of the Boko Haram enclave in the name of repentance. Should their repentance be accepted after enabling flood of blood in the land through massive killings? This is debatable and it isn’t the focus of this article. The focus is the problems that would arise in the aftermath of their incorporation into our already battered society. One of them is carnal need which can only be addressed through marriage. Any other means to address such need would not be tolerated in any sane society as it will create more ills than the society can bear.

Having realized this, these Boko Haram ladies decide to marry. They are desperate to marry and start a new life. Let’s just hope they are earnest.
But the question now is: who will marry them? Boko Haram wives? “People treat us like plague”, some of them confessed. This is the reality. Regrettably though, some of these ladies are not actually Boko Haram wives, nor are they their collaborators. They are only victims who were kidnapped and forced to live in wilderness. But how does one differentiate victims of Boko Haram from their collaborators among these ladies? It is very sad!

This is one of the consequences of not holding rulers to account. The ideology being promoted by some clerics is that any attempt to hold rulers to account would land one into Hell Fire! Even the concept of Kábíyèsí (i.e. the unquestionability of king’s actions) in the Yoruba tradition is for courtesy. Sadly, these clerics have made it a religious concept used to excommunicate anyone who criticises rulers (no matter how constructive) from their religion.
In reality, there are checks and balances even in Yoruba tradition. Without checks and balances, frankly speaking, there will be massive corruption on earth. The Almighty says in the Qur’an (2: 251), “And if Allah did not check one set of people by means of another, the earth would indeed be full of mischief.”

So, no one is Kábíyèsí. There is nothing like Kábíyèsí. The Almighty is categorical about this, He is the only Kábíyèsí (the unquestionabe) in heaven and earth. He says in the Qur’an (21: 23): “He (God) cannot be questioned as to what He does.”

Since rulers in Nigeria can do and undo as religion has been weoponized to give them cover for misbehaving, there is no wonder that we find ourselves where we are. Even if we say government did not create Boko Haram, their actions (injustice and corruption) and inactions (negligence of their responsibilities)—which no one talks about anymore—resulted in the menace of Boko Haram. Now their repentant ladies and wives are crying for husbands. Let me ask again, who will marry them?

We should not lose sight of the fact that even ladies with no such sordid past are in abundant supply without husbands. Not because they do not want to marry, their husbandlessness is majorly attributed to the majestic poverty in the land. So is with men. Many are afraid of marriage not because they do not admire women but because they lack the wherewithal to manage the big institution which marriage is. Poverty has ripple effects, it must be tamed if we must live.

That said, there is fear that these ladies might be circumstantially compelled to go back to where they came from. I do not nurse this fear. Yet, it is not dismissible as some of the ladies might not have sincerely repented. However, if they are sincerely sincere about their repentance, choice of going back to the devil forest—which the Boko Haram abode is—should never be a choice. Those who could not find husbands among them should rather endure husbandlessness; after all, they are not alone. God will reward them for their patience.

Though I have sympathy for these ladies who want to live good life through marriage, I do not have the moral right to encourage anyone to marry them. If I encourage people, they will ask me to lead by example. Do you think I will lead? This is the problem. My advice to the workaholic Governor Zulum is to treat this issue with the seriousness it deserves. If these ladies should lead an immoral life due to lack of husbands, only few will be saved from the plague that will ensue.

A team of experts should be constituted to brainstorm on how to proffer workable solutions to the problem which the yearnings of these husband-searching-repentant-Boko-Haram-ladies is. These experts should be comprised of psychologists, sociologists, political sociologists, clerics with deep knowledge of the science of society, and other relevant experts whose expertise could be priceless in coming up with lasting solution(s). I wish Zulum success as he relentlessly and patriotically govern his people.

Abdulkadir Salaudeen
salahuddeenabdulkadir@gmail.com

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