Between Aisha Oruru, Aisha Uzoechina And The Rest Of Us
When back in 2010 a former governor of Zamfara state Yariman Bakura, Senator Sani Ahmed married in Abuja a 13 year old Egyptian school girl in clear violation of the Child Rights Act (2003) he declared “I do not work with such law that runs counter to my religion”. A reported USD100, 000 was paid as bride price in Cairo and the spokesperson for the Egyptian embassy in the FCT Mr. Mohammed Saber agreed underage marriage was illegal in the bride’s native country but promised inquisitive Nigerian press enquiries he will “follow the matter”.
The distinguished Senator has apparently since then been living in a house built on sand moreso from October 2015 when the wife of the President, Hajiya Aisha Buhari “promised to advocate for passage of the Child’s Right Act in states yet to do so” adding for good measure that she would also campaign for “better implementation of the Act in states where it has been passed into law”.
Mrs. Buhari spoke in Abuja at the opening of the national conference on the social protection of the Girl Child with the theme: “Strategies to improve protection of the rights of the girl child in Nigeria”. Where Mrs. Buhari pointed out that “child marriage affects the health, education and economic condition of the victims while fuelling domestic violence against girls and preventing them from achieving their full potentials”
No doubt the wife of the president to the Senator’s consternation might have drawn her inspiration from Hannatu Musawa’s 2013 blog offering entitled “CHILD BRIDE NOT ISLAM; An Alternative View”.
The lady formerly known as Miss Charity Uzoechina in 2014 claimed her conversion was “strictly personal, gradual and well thought-out” as such she did not encounter any legal loophole since she was then 25 years old. She however alleged her father Pastor Raymond threatened her life for reinventing herself as an Aisha, interestingly Miss Ese Oruru now also known as Aisha declared to the Police in Kano that her family might also threaten her precious existence if she was returned back to the creeks of Yenegoa and that was as far back as September 2015. Preferring the dusty ambience of the rustic Tofa, Aisha according to Mallam Dahiru Bala father of the audacious Yinusa Yellow the Police in Kano “out of sympathy said she should be taken back to Kura” presumably to keep her out of reach of her marauding cross country relatives.
Nothing in Nigeria ticks like an inter-communal conspiracy theory, it is therefore a question of time before somebody geographically profiles the leading emirates of Kano, Bida and the caliphate of Sokoto where another reported Aisha in the making but still known as Miss Patience Paul a 15 year old Ohimini native of Benue was allegedly abducted from Gidan Kukah, Runjin Sambo area of the Sokoto state capital.
Against the backdrop of religiously inspired elopement and even abduction what is it about interfaith relations that the rest of Nigeria can learn from the South-West? Remarkably it is only in that part of Nigeria that an Islamic faith-based institution of higher learning , Fountain University Osogbo to generate robust debate will invite a learning cleric of muscular Christianity Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah to deliver a lead paper on such a topic as “THE MUSLIM AGENDA FOR NIGERIA; CHALLENGES FOR DEVELOPMENT AND GOOD GOVERNANCE”.
As the Oruru family copes with the trauma and associated stress disorder of their daughter’s teenage exuberance there is no better advice to extend to them than what a certain Bitrus Gwadah proffered to the family of Pastor Raymond that “you cannot fight faith with the court, police or any human institution. You can only fight faith with faith. And the fight is a spiritual struggle not by the use of rhetoric”. The furor over the older Aisha was decisively put down by her marriage to Barrister Tijani the lawyer that was defending her from her family! For Miss Oruru the ruckus might just be starting.
As isolated and varied the cases of the Aishas and Miss Paul are there is an overwhelming need for the northern Muslim intelligentsia to reexamine its relevance to foster better inter-communal relations.
That might however be a tall order because as far back as the early 2000s when Zamfara became the first of the 12 states in the north to implement the Sharia code the histrionics that followed had our country almost bursting at the seams of intolerance there was however a lone moderating voice that emerged as a national balm. The welcome intervention of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who is today paradoxically in the eye of the storm of Ese Oruru then wisely counseled on the trepidation caused by Sharia implementation that “the fear of Christians is understandable” but however argued that “the fact is that prejudice is always built on a foundation of ignorance” while admitting that “even Muslims have apprehensions about the Sharia project” because as he put it “with the best of intentions, practice is always flawed and imperfect.
There is need for caution, for enlightenment and for sensitivity”. For such commendable prudence Sanusi drew the ire of those who felt that he was trading his intellect for a “guise of Islamic scholarship” so much water eventually passed under the bridge culminating into a sectarian proxy war the current ‘Commander of the Faithful’ in Kano had with revered Sheik Jaffar Mahmud Adam that unfortunately descended to name calling with a particular blogger Muhammad Jameel Yusha’u then referring to Sanusi as part of the “societal chameleons who could be bankers today, political analysts tomorrow, economist day after tomorrow and the next morning appear as Malikis with a dose of Shi’a doctrines in their cupboard”.
The differences between the “traditional scholars” and the likes of the Emir of Kano was further defined by the need according to Muhammad Shakir in Essex, UK for Islamic clerics in the north “to be more useful by broadening their horizons with the modern subjects of Sociology, Political science, Space Technology, Reproductive Health, Psychology etc as we do not live in an intellectually closed system”.
It is against this background Babel of discordant Islamic voices that more Aishas will be produced in the north because the Emir of Kano is equally a victim of a religiously closed environment just as the Oruru family.