Economic Hardship Cripples Kano Mass Wedding Of Over 10,000 Women

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No fewer than 10,000 women registered for the kano state sponsored mass

wedding programme are now frustrated as the event has failed to commence

as planned.
Director of Morality Police otherwise known as Hisbah, Ustaz Abba Sufi

said the economic situation in the state as well as the country, has made

it practically difficult to carry out the Mass Wedding ceremony.

Ustaz Abba sufi said at the moment, over 10,000 women who have registered

for the mass wedding programme and are waiting to be introduced to

prospective suitors.
Hisbah said it had arranged 4,461 marriages since the programme began in

Kano in 2012. This year records the highest number of women seeking to be

married at the Mass Wedding.
The women include divorcees and girls of marriage age registered in person

and via social media platforms we operate like facebook, twitter, whatsapp

and among the others.
The matchmaking programme began in 2012 During the Rabiu kwankwaso

Administration to help divorcees remarry in Kano state.

Under the scheme, the state government pays the bride price and provides

furniture and household utensils for the newlyweds. A total of 1,111

couples tied the knot in an elaborate event at the Kano central mosque in

December 2013.
Other Northern states such as Jigawa, Adamawa, Gombe Among others have

started the matchmaking programme.
Nigeria, one of Africa's main oil producers, depends on the sale of crude

for 70 percent of government revenue but income has been slashed since

prices plunged around the world two years ago.
State governments have struggled to pay public sector salary the naira has

weakened, causing a shortage of foreign exchange, hitting investment and

key imports of goods, fuel and food.
At the same time, inflation has soared to nearly 11 year highs, with

predictions of more devaluation to come and further rises in the cost of

living.
“The cash crunch has compelled us to halt the programme in which has

resulted in a huge backlog of women intent on getting the right husbands

to marry through the matchmaking process,” mallam Abba sufi said.

Farida ABubakar Samanu, a divorced mother of four children, said she

registered to find a husband two years ago but has been frustrated because

of the lack of funding. “We are calling on the authorities to resume the

mass wedding so as to help those of us in need,” she said.

“We are not asking for too much, just the basic things we need to start a

new married life,” she said.
Widespread poverty has been blamed for the rising number of divorces in

Kano city and the surrounding state.
Kano's economy declined sharply in the 1980s because of electricity

shortages, which forced up production costs to reduced by almost 48%, high

bank lending rates and competition from cheap foreign imports. More than

400 of Kano city's 500 textile factories were forced to close, leaving

thousands jobless and creating the highest unemployment of rate of any of

Nigeria's 36 states.
The economic decline has had a direct impact on families, leading to

divorces in a mainly Muslim society where polygamy is prevalent. With no

access to education and parental care, children from broken homes have

ended up on the street, fending for themselves and also falling into crime

and drugs.
“I have four children and their father is unable to feed them and I am

living in my fathers house currently. We are struggling to survive and I

can't afford to provide the furniture, which is an essential provision for

marriage in our culture,” said one divorcee, who asked not to be

identified.
Another divorced named Khadijah Isma`il Abba said “I have been divorced

for five years and I so much need to remarry. I registered a year ago it's

worrisome the mass wedding has been delayed due to the economic downturn.”

The mass wedding project was seen as able to prevent Boko Haram Islamists

from recruiting affected and impoverished youths.
The north's conservative culture gives a husband absolute powers in

marriage but men have often abused it and divorced their wives at will.

Under the matchmaking project, couples can only divorce with the explicit

consent of the state government and the Hisbah. Any man who unilaterally

divorces his wife risks going to jail, according to Hisbah Management.

The security the mass wedding programme provides for the wife makes many

women prefer getting married through the programme because she knows her

husband cannot divorce her at will, said Sufi.
To resume mass weddings, the Hisbah wants funding from the private sector

and wealthy individuals to help so as to make the programme succeed in the

state.
“But in the current climate that is proving difficult we can't allow the

programme to crash because of its immense social benefits which makes

stopping it altogether unthinkable despite the economic crunch, said Sufi.

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