Is Emir Sanusi’s move to regulate polygamy appropriate?

  • Usman Bako Abdul (President, Campaign for Democracy)

Such a threat is a breach of the rights of people who want to practise their religion. If you are talking about bringing a bill to ban polygamy, then you also have to consider the number of young women roaming our streets.

We should rather make the system suitable for as many marriages as possible.

Look at how wealthy Emir Sanusi is. He is among the wealthiest emirs in the north. He should look for a way to create avenues for financial empowerment for his people instead of pursuing this regulation.

Muslims have the right to marry more than one wife.  However, you are not supposed to have children who will become a nuisance to the society. You are to bring up pious and responsible children.

Therefore, my take is that such a regulation of polygamy must not go into law. It is a thing of the mind and every Nigerian must be free to exercise their right.

If truly you want to make a regulation that will alleviate poverty, you do not have to infringe on the rights of the people. It is wrong.

Nothing qualifies an emir to regulate the number of wives people should marry. Some of our wealthy men have three to four wives at home and still go out to exploit young girls. What do you say to that? It is better for a man to be polygamous than to be philandering.

If they actually want to tackle poverty through marriage, the emirs would not be giving their daughters to one another in marriage.

  • Mr. Olukayode Azeez (Legal practitioner)

If you look at the Quranic injunction, precisely suratul Nisai, it spells out all about marriage and how to go about it in Islam. People believe that the chapter was revealed so that Muslim men will realize they can marry more than one wife if you can treat them justly.

Another one is that you can marry three wives if you have the power and up to four wives provided you have the means. However, you cannot marry two wives if you don’t have the capacity to cater for them. Emir Sanusi Lamido proposing a law to restrict men who don’t have the means to marry more than one wife is good, but it is the National Assembly that can make laws. If you look at Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution, which explains the power of the legislature, you will understand that the House of Assembly also can make laws. If the emir is determined to have it as a law, he will send the bill either to the National or State House of Assembly and the lawmakers must pass the bill and the governor must sign it into law.

In all, I would throw my weight behind what Emir Sanusi is proposing due to the abuse of the provision of the earlier mentioned chapter of the Quran and because he did not make it general that everyone should marry more than one wife – it is all about caring for the wives – doing justice to them as well as the offsprings of the union so that they are catered for. Give them both religious and western education in order to prevent them from becoming nuisance to society.

If you look at northerners, you will discover that many of them don’t cater for their children. Most of the time, they allow them to find a means of survival which is inimical to their future as well as that of the country.

If you can’t cater for the needs of one woman and you are marrying four, it is a dangerous thing. This should stop. Only those who have the means and can do justice to all, equally, should marry more than one wife.

  • Hajia Barakat Atunse (Kwara State President, National Council of Women Societies, Nigeria)

I do not think regulation of polygamy is possible because on religious basis, Islam permits men to marry more than one wife.

They are allowed to marry up to four wives. If they want to regulate polygamy, that means they would bring their own law. I do not think that the Muslim folk will agree to that kind of regulation.

What I heard he said was that the less privileged should be encouraged to stick to one wife because of the economic situation. Even if he regulates for the less privileged, it is not appropriate according to Islamic injunction. I do not think that will be allowed to happen.

If the Emir of Kano insists on the regulation of polygamy even if for the less privileged, he is bringing in something that is against Islam. It is only in Christianity that it is one man one wife. That one is allowed in Christianity; but in Islam, it is not allowed.

A man can have more than one wife if he can do what is expected of him to take care of his wives.

I will advise the emir to  be cautious in order not to cause problems in the society. Such a regulation could cause crisis among the Muslim faithful. We may have a situation where a man says he wants to marry another wife, the woman at home may cite what the Emir of Kano said.

And the Emir of Kano does not have only one wife. He has many wives or is he going to reduce the number of his own wives to one? If he cannot do that, he should not give that advice.

I know women do not want rivals. We do not want to be second wife and we do not want second wife either. But there is nothing we can do if a husband marries more than one wife because that is what Islam permits.

Islam permits our men to have more than one wife; we do not have a choice. In that case, we advise women to endure and make sure that they do not have broken homes. That informed the topic of NCWS seminar in Ilorin with the theme: ‘The impact of divorce, broken homes and marriages on youth development in Nigeria.’ We do not encourage broken homes because it affects our children and when it affects our children, women are vulnerable and will bear the consequences.

Even if a Muslim man decides to take more than one wife, the wife should be calm and take care of the children, except where there is violence. If there is violence, like the man beating his wife, that is not good.

I will advise Muslim men, if they do not have the means of having more than one wife, they should stick to one. But if they are blessed and they want to marry more wives, it is allowed because Islam permits it.

  • Malachy Ugwumadu, (President, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights)

The Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, is a worst advertisement of the product he is marketing. Within months of ascending the throne, the emir took more wives to himself, thereby defeating his call to regulate polygamy.

A regulation that poor men should not practise polygamy is class discriminatory, mundane and offensive. If there were to be a law, it must apply to all classes.

The emir, as a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, whose decisions while in government also contributed to the mess we find ourselves today, must think of more valuable ways to empower the people rather than resorting to regulating polygamy.

He must first be an example of what he is preaching.

  • Mashood Erubami (President, Voters Assembly)

The Emir of Kano, Mohammed Sanusi II, is not only a traditional ruler, he is also a religious leader. He must have considered a lot of things before making that pronouncement. I will only say care should be taken not to infringe on the religious rights of Muslims.

 I think he must have taken into account the reality of today’s economy and you know the high birth rates among low income earners.

If a man has four wives and each of them has four children each, you have sixteen children, four women and a man. In that single household alone, you have 21 persons.

Now, if you don’t have the means to cater to their needs, you become a burden to yourself and society. I think that is what he is trying to prevent. He has his reasons for wanting to propose such legislation, we should consider him.

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