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Your threats can’t stop wedding of 100 girls – Ex-Niger commissioner replies minister

Your threats can’t stop wedding of 100 girls - Ex-Niger commissioner replies minister %Post Title

Jonathan Vatsa, a former commissioner for information and culture in Niger state, says the proposed wedding of 100 girls in the state will go on despite public outcry.

Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, the speaker of the Niger state house of assembly, had from the wedding after Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, minister of women affairs, threatened to sue him.

The minister said the development was unacceptable, arguing that the girls should be in school or learning vocational skills.

Sarkindaji, who had provided financial support and was billed to host the event on May 24, withdrew his involvement.

The speaker said it was at the discretion of the girls’ parents and traditional leaders to proceed as they deemed fit.

Addressing journalists on Wednesday, Vatsa, a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC), advised Kennedy-Ohanenye not to go into “issues that she knows nothing about”.

He said the minister knew nothing about the situation of the girls and should have done due diligence before issuing threats.

“No amount of threat of court action can stop these parents from giving out their daughters in marriage after receiving the necessary supports,” Vatsa said.

“The minister should have done her investigation first to know if these girls have attained the age of marriage by law or if they were being forced into marriage before going to the air to threaten the speaker, who is merely offering assistance.

“You cannot just sit in an air-conditioned office in Abuja and be threatening people without knowing what these orphans are going through after losing their parents to insecurity and those whose parents cannot afford their marriage expenses even though they have attained the age for marriage.

“Does the minister have any plans for people whom she has never seen or known about their plight, or is she trying to encourage prostitution in the area?

“You don’t play politics by interfering with the people’s culture and tradition; more so that these girls have suitors who want to marry them.

“I am sure the speaker, being a trained lawyer, is not afraid of going to court. The speaker is not giving the girls out in marriage but just rendering support to the families, and there is no law in Nigeria that forbids someone from giving assistance towards marriage. That is why I said the minister is fighting a lost battle.”

Vatsa said banditry activities across 12 LGAs of the state have produced over 5,000 orphans, widows, and widowers.

He urged the minister to visit Niger and “see the sufferings of these orphans, the majority of whom are girls.”.

He urged Sarkindaji not to succumb to any threat, as “the people will feel disappointed if you withdraw your support for them”. (The Cable)

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