I Regret Forcing My Daughter To Early Marriage, Says Father

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Nigeria recently joined the rest of the world to mark International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

International Women’s Day which holds every March 8th is a collective day of global celebration and a call for gender parity.

The idea of this theme, “bold for change” the organizers said, is to consider how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal number 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; and number 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.

As an acknowledgement of this great day that seek to address gender equality, right and dignity, our correspondent spoke to a Nigerian, Mr Bello Taofeek Akanji who shared his experience on his attempt circumcise her daughter against the wish of other family members as well as his failed attempt to force his daughter to early marriage to an elderly man because he fears she will become a lesbian.

He expressed his utter regret over this

Here are excerpts from the interview:

Q. Sir Congratulations on the celebration of International Women’s Day What is your view on issues concerning Nigerian women today?

A. well, lots of issues are facing Nigerian women today notably domestic violence, poverty, unemployment amongst others the Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Sani Aliyu at function recently said gender inequality issues are key drivers of HIV/AIDS epidemic in several ways as women currently constitute 59 per cent of HIV positive individuals.

Q. what role do you think Government can play in addressing issues facing Nigerian women?

A. I think Nigerian government should domesticate treaties that seeks to address challenges facing the female folks. This will go a long way in curtailing violence against women. Security agencies should also be strengthened and empowered to deal with individual or group that abuse women. Government should make the process of redress effective and assessable

Q. In recent times in Nigeria the women have been agitating for gender equality, what is your take on this.

A. I want to say African culture frowns at, but we have seen women excelling in their chosen careers like late Dora Akunyili, Obi Ezekwesiri, Ngozi Okongo Iweala I think the government should consider the request of the women and give it approval maybe through political appointments.

Q Sir, recently the USA, and other world powers advised Nigeria to accept and allow gay marriage in the country, what do you have to say to their request.

A This is a very sensitive matter and our government have already rejected that offer and advice, for me as a person I don’t like it infact that was why I had wanted to make my daughter Bello Basirat Titilayo to marry my friend Chief Ojo at an early age because I noticed the lesbian tendency in her, infact she was always in the midst of females so to prevent her from becoming a Lesbian which I suspected, I offered her to my friend for marriage which made her to run away from home till today. So I don’t support it

Q. Sir, Nigeria today because of hardship parents now give out their young children to rich people far older than them to survive, what do you have to say about this ugly situation.

A. For me this is wrong looking back now, because I regret taking the same decision concerning my daughter Bello Basirat Titilayo whom I wanted to force to marry my friend Chief Ojo at an early age knowing fully well he was old enough to be her father and she fled home to avoid my wish to materialize on her. I even heard that she married to another woman in Canada. How she got to Candada remains a mystery to me and my family

So I advise parents not to give their children out in marriage against their wish at very early age. Let them decide on whom to marry. The choice should be their discretion. This is the second time that my daughter is running away from the house, the first time was when we attempted to circumcise her because the doctor advised against it when she was young because of some medical condition.

Q. In our society notably in the northern part of the country female child education is not taken seriously and neglected in some cases, is this right

A. No, no, it is not right at all, because the girl child need good education to be able to fulfil their potential. If you look around the world today, in Britain a woman is the prime minister, in Germany a woman is the leader and now in USA Hilary Clinton contested the presidential election and so many others like Margaret Thatcher, So it is important to educate our female children.

Q. Lastly sir, the issue of circumcision has been a debate in Nigeria, do you agree with circumcision or not.

A. Thank you, I am apostle of circumcision because it is our tradition in Africa. I want to let you know that I am not happy today because as I said earlier, my daughters Bello Basirat Titilayo refused to be circumcised and ran away from home which I am not happy with because she is an African woman and its our tradition. So I am solidly in support of circumcision.

Q. What advice do you have for the present government in power in Nigeria?

A. My advice for them is to make sure that the Nigerian people enjoy the dividends of democracy by doing the right and necessary things. The change that the present administration promised is not forth coming.

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