Recently, it was reported that the Kano State government dragged one Habiba Inusa of Doguwa Gangare to court for giving birth to a child a day after the mass wedding sponsored by the government. This news came days after the Kano State government organised and sponsored a 200 million naira mass wedding for about 1,520 couples across 44 local governments of which Habiba was one of the beneficiaries. The government paid 20,000 naira in dowry for each bride and donated to each couple room furniture set and other items. This is part of the government’s mass wedding programme which was first introduced in the state by Dr Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso-led administration when the incumbent governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje was the deputy. It is also the first mass wedding Ganduje has organised since assuming office on May 29, 2015.
On the 5th of March 2017, it was also reported that Sokoto State government was planning a mass wedding of 100 couples and that the wedding which is scheduled to hold around April will cost 32 million naira. This was revealed by Sokoto state Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Alhaji Mani Katami, who also said that the state will pay the bride prices and each of the brides would be given items such as mattresses, beddings, and other household items.
This is a norm in the northern part of Nigeria and they are not ashamed to reveal it. Despite being affected by the current economic situation it is surprising to see that these Northern states can still lavish so much money on mass weddings instead of looking at the several issues facing them. It is also very surprising because Kano and Sokoto states were among the states that the Federal Government gave bailout funds to pay salaries last year. Instead of using the money they have to build more schools, provide clean water, food and other basic amenities – both governments have decided to use the money to organise mass weddings.
Currently, Sokoto state needs 10.7 billion naira to rehabilitate 40 primary and secondary schools in the state but it has decided to spend 32 million naira on weddings. Sokoto is also the state with the 14th lowest amount of Internally Generated Revenue in 2016.
The United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that every single day, Nigeria loses about 2,300 under-fives and 145 women of child-bearing age, making Nigeria the second largest contributor to the under-five deaths and maternal mortality rate in the world. Reports from Kano State indicate that no fewer than 55,000 children were treated for acute malnutrition in 2016. In February this year, the Deputy Governor of Kano State, Prof Hafiz Abubakar raised an alarm over the high level of malnutrition among children as 56 percent of kids in the state are affected. In Sokoto State, the estimated acute malnutrition cases in 2016 were put at 34,419.
Despite having these issues to deal with, these state governments decided that it is more important to spend so much on mass weddings instead of building schools and eradicating malnutrition. Evidently, these governments have failed to place their priorities right and it very unnecessary at this time in the country.