Straight Talk With Olanike: When Will Nigerians Unite In Demanding New Laws?


The past one week or so have had Nigeria on the global news for no other reason than the new law against homosexuality. It is quite interesting and great to see my fellow citizens speak with one voice on an issue that they consider important to the nation. Isn’t that the whole essence of democracy?  That a people can decide their fates with the most potent weapon: the law. At least it is said that up to 98%, of the people gave their blessings to the President for ridding the country of “sodomy” and what is considered “unAfrican”. 

But is homosexuality continental or racial by any chance? I doubt it.  As a young girl, I had heard of certain individuals who were known to be homosexuals. Many of them were not exposed to western culture or the media.  At the time, it was considered medically as a mental health issue until recently when fierce debates emanated from the UK and USA. Truth be told, only 17  out of 50 states in the United States have so far legalized same-sex unions.  There are still a sizeable number of people in the USA that do not approve of the lifestyle or their getting married. Likewise in the UK, many faith organizations campaigned against same sex marriages which was recently signed into law by the British Prime Minister,  Mr David Cameron. 

Nigeria, on the other hand, as much as I know has not come close to having demands for same sex marriages as these are socially frowned at by our local communities.  Maybe the president signed the new bill as a result of the threats issued by the development donor countries on the matter? I don’t have a clear answer to that question though. What I am pleased about here is knowing that Nigerians can unite to such great extents on any issue. Almost unbelievable for a country so divided by religion, tribalism and ethnicity.

Good as the unity seems to be, I think that we need to channel that oneness in addressing the pressing ills of our society. From what I know as a Christian, no one is empowered to play God; deciding who to lynch or maim.  With a culture where perceived enemies and criminals are given jungle justice, one can only hope that this law will not be used as a weapon of oppression and injustice.  The bible, believed upon by millions in the country, addresses the issues of injustice, poverty and fairness more than it does homosexuality which the average Christian agrees as sinful. 

Here we are fighting with every fibre of our beings yet unjust rules are being applied to our children day in day out.  Our youths are held in chains of poverty; leading them into becoming gigolos and harlots.  Wicked policies are established by corporate organizations in discriminating against qualified graduates on the basis of age. The slightly older university graduates who went through thick and thin in completing their degrees are denied access to gainful employments and we sit down unperturbed. University lecturers harass female students continually and we say nothing. We now have a system whereby grades are no longer on the bases of merit but sexual performances. The issue of rape is not seen as the greatest violation of women, who are mostly the victims, and no public outcries follow the few cases that make it into limelight. When will Nigerians unite against such for the badly needed laws? 

What about the inequalities against women such that I, as a woman, cannot stand in for a bail in a police station simply because I was born female? What about the harrowing horrors that widows are subjected to? And talk of how men engage in extra-marital affairs and bigamy; exposing their families to danger which we have refused to address. 

Then let’s speak of the culture of impunity and injustice where victims are turned into criminals?  Many innocent lives languish in jail with neither trial dates nor justice in view but we have no laws to address those. When will Nigerians unite in demanding for new laws?  Laws that will improve the quality of life, poverty index and life expectancy? 

We are in a good place with this unity but it needs to be redirected to greater causes that will show our profession of faiths. We need new laws that will criminalize cyber criminals instead of conferring chieftaincy titles on them. We need new laws that will criminalize pen robbers instead of offering them Thanksgiving sessions.  We need new laws that will address rapists appropriately instead of laying the blames at the feet of the helpless victims.  We need new laws that will protect our children from pedophiles and aristos. These among many others are the laws needed in Nigeria.  Nigerians should rise to the challenge and petition the government for these new laws as they hail the president for the ones they unanimously agree upon. 

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