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Ameliorating the plight of indigent orphans in Jigawa

The destinies of over 250 orphaned girl-child in Jigawa
state were touched by the state government recently when it sponsored a mass
wedding for them unlike in other places where widows and divorcees were
considered. Writes BAYO MUHAMMAD.

Jigawa state Governor, Mohammed  Badaru Abubakar’s golden mind has touched the
lives of 275 orphans girls who before now had never thought of getting married.

This was so because the orphans have no parent or close relations
to take care of them in terms of preparing them for marriage. Therefore their
hope of becoming parents in the future was totally lost before now.

However, through the help of Governor Badaru, their hopes
were rekindled recently. These were girls that hitherto had nobody to rest
their shoulders on. Today, they now have a father who not only provides
necessities such as feedings, clothing and health but a father that has spent
N93 million to join them in marriage to a spouse.

The ceremony took place at Dutse Central Mosque recently
under the watchful eyes of the Emir of Dutse, Alhaji Nuhu Mohammadu Sanusi.
Other dignitaries who witnessed the 
marriage included religious leaders, elders of various areas within
Dutse township as well as others from the 27 local government areas from where
the orphans were selected.

How the idea was conceived

 The special assistant
to the governor on Religious and Chieftaincy Affairs, Alhaji Mustapha Sale
Kwalam, explained that, “First and foremost, the state government wanted
to have mass wedding for widows as done in other places but one day during the
State Executive Council meeting, the governor gave us a new idea. He said,
instead of mass wedding for widows or divorcees, why don’t we constitute a
committee to go into the nooks and crannies of the state to find orphans and
marry them to husbands of their choice. We all accepted the idea and that was
how we came about this occasion”.

Modalities for selection

According to the special assistant, “These girls were
275 in number and 10 of them were selected from each of the 27 local government
areas of the state. To ensure fairness and objectivity, one was selected from
each electoral ward. They were screened and the list forwarded to the governor
for approval. The exercise was fair as none of our relations was selected among
the beneficiaries; in other words, there was no preferred orphan among any of

According to him, “First of all, we constituted a 16
member committee of respected people under the commandant of Hisba, state
Shariah Commission which went round the entire nooks and crannies of the state,
met and discussed with all the traditional rulers,  ullamas, community leaders, government
relevant agencies and elders in the society among others to find out a reliable
way of carrying out this important assignment”.

Highlighting further, he said, “Members of this special
committee include traditional rulers such as 
district heads, ward heads, village heads,  imams, community leaders, elders, women representatives,
the police as well as the  Department of
State Security (DSS) all under the leadership of the commandant of Hisba and
the state Shariah Commission.

At the end, it came out with the modality of where one
orphaned child would be picked from each electoral ward irrespective of
political affiliation, sectional or any other thing other than the purpose it
was intended to achieve as conceived by the governor. Immediately, we swung
into action. The government spent N93 million on everything including the
transportation from their villages to Dutse”.

Furniture for brides

Alhaji Kwalam said all sets of furniture needed for use were
allocated to each of the 275 brides. “The governor thereafter directed us
to purchase set of furniture and other utensils necessary for everyday use that
cannot be wasted or short changed”. He said the furniture must be obtained
within the period of not more than 40 days before the wedding to avoid being
misplaced or stolen.

Earlier in the life of the administration, Governor Badaru
promised to have a mass wedding for widows, but because of the economic melt
down being experienced in the country generally, the exercise was delayed but
now changed to accommodate the less privileged members of our society who need
more care than widows.

The Emir of Dutse commended the state government for this
important decision. He said,

“Traditional rulers were deeply involved in the processes of
marrying these orphans. The governor wanted it to be done quietly but we
insisted that it should be made public not because we wanted to advertise it,
but we wanted some privileged persons in our midst to know about it and do the

“Honestly, I want to appeal to the council chairmen of
the local government areas within my emirate to assist the brides by sponsoring
them to various schools. And effort should also be made in educating children
of the less privileged in the society.

“Also I am directly appealing to the husbands of these
brides to allow them to continue with their education. This applies to those of
them that were in school before and those not opportuned to be in school. I am
saying this because majority of them are too young and they need to be given a
good care by their husbands”.

Continuing further, the Emir said, “This has nothing to
do with politics; no member of any political party was included in the
committee; we worked tirelessly with our district heads in the rural areas in
order to come up with the choice of these brides. It is purely humanitarian,
these are the types of people to be assisted in the society and we thank the
governor for this gesture”.

Also, wife of the governor, Hajiya Asma’u Badaru, used the
occasion to call on both the brides and the bribe grooms to be faithful to each
other, saying in Islam marriage is one of the most important and respectful
activities. “Any mature lady or man that does not marry early in his or her
time would be considered as abnormal in any Muslims society, so I am calling on
both the brides and the bride grooms to always forgive each other whenever
unusual issues arise in the family. Because what makes marriages last is
tolerance by both the wife and the husband. I therefore urged you to take good
care of the property and furniture provided to you in order to make them last
long. I honestly thank the initiators of this gesture”, she concluded.

In his appreciation of the event, the chairman of Dutse
Local Government Area,  Hon Yakubu
Yargaba, also emphasised that, “I pray that God the Almighty should shower
His endless blessings on this state, on all the emirates in the state that
contributed to this event. I pray  God to
also bless the local government area as well as all other people who
contributed positively with their wealth.”

According to findings by Blueprint, orphan marriage will
continue simultaneously across the state.


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