opinionBy Sonnie Ekwowusi
Lagos — The moves by the Nigerian Association of homosexuals and lesbians to give homosexual marriage or "same-sex marriage" or relationship between persons of same sex, a cloak of legality suffered a stunning defeat last Wednesday as the Joint House Committee on Women Affairs and Youth Development Committee on Justice and House Committee on Human Rights of the House of Representatives, Abuja, after the Public Hearing, unanimously passed a Bill for an Act banning same-sex marriage, and sexual relationship between persons of same-sex or other matters connected therewith in Nigeria.
This is one victory many Nigerians have been waiting for. A staff of the National Assembly described the passing of the Bill as a victory for Nigerian values and culture. Which means that there is hope for this country; that despite everything, there is still light at the end of the dark tunnel. Truly, whenever the history of the out-going Obasanjo government is re-written, the defeat of homosexuality at the House of Representatives via an Executive Bill under the wooling hands of Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN), Justice Minister, and Frank Nweke Jr, Information Minister, shall be given a pride of place.
The case of the Nigerian homosexuals and lesbians, like their colleagues in other countries, is that we should understand them and tolerate them for what they are; that marriage should be re-defined to recognize their "right" to co-habit and raise children among themselves; that marriage is basically a way of sharing pleasure and promoting feelings of closeness and therefore should be liberalized. Shortly after the legalization of homosexuality in South Africa two years ago, the Nigerian homosexuals met in Abuja and vowed to get "same-sex marriage" legalized in Nigeria. To make this dream come true, they employed some people to be writing articles and letters to the editors in Nigerian newspapers in support of "same-sex marriage". At a time, a United Nations organ threatened that any country that outlawed "same-sex marriage" would lose all financial assistance from them. These days, some foreign embassies in Lagos are quick to issue visa to any Nigerian young man who can establish by any iota of evidence that he wants visa to travel to America or any country in Europe to get "married" to his male friend. This is a way of using the embassies to legalize homosexuality. At the last ICASA Conference in Abuja, some homosexuals and lesbians courageously came out with posters to press home their demand for the legalization of homosexuality. I think it was after encountering them at that conference that the duo of Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN) and Frank Nweke Jr, decided to champion the crusade for the introduction of an executive bill banning "same sex marriage" in Nigeria.
What the Nigerian homosexuals and lesbians still fail to understand is that every society grows at its own pace and in accordance with its own unique culture and values. South Africa, which has legalized homosexuality, is different from the rest of African countries. Things may be bad in Nigeria, but not to the extent that men will be given licence to be doing unnatural things among themselves in the name of gay marriage. The traditional family remains the safety-nets for the upbringing of children in Africa. It also the bedrock, the hope of the African people. Destroy the traditional family in Africa, and you would have succeeded in destroying the whole of Africa. So, we should stop swallowing immoral western culture hook line and sinker. Our political system may be in a mess; politicians may be corrupt, but some of our cultural values are still intact. So, the Nigerian Association of homosexuals and Lesbians should go and sit down. Instead of campaigning for the legalization of "same-sex marriage", they should channel their energies and resources to the development of our country. We have many problems in Nigeria; no electricity supply, no good roads, no pipe-borne water supply; no gainful employment. So, legalization of homosexuality is not our priority in Nigeria.
The only right the Nigerian homosexuals and lesbians have is their right to be taken to the hospitals (or Babalawos or Dibias for those of them who are professed atheists) for treatment. Those who are sick should not be going about advertising their sickness.
Like homosexuality, the abortion bill, otherwise called Reproductive Health Bill was defeated or, if you like, aborted, in Port-Harcourt last year. You will recall that when the Public Hearing on the Bill came up at the Senate on the 13th February 2006, it was met with stiff opposition, the strongest coming from many mothers and women who had thronged the National Assembly to resist the attempt to get the bill passed. Consequently, between April 27 to Sunday April 30, 2006 the Senate Health Committee organized a 3-day retreat at Presidential Hotel in Port Harcourt to reconsider the bill. After due re-consideration the bill was finally dismissed. So right now in Nigeria, the National Assembly has succeeded in stopping the legalization of abortion and homosexuality in Nigeria.
Attempts to legalize abortion in Nigeria have always met with stiff opposition. When the idea of legalizing abortion was first muted during Shehu Shagari government, a group of women and mothers from either Imo State or so threatened to storm Abuja naked. After that threat, the idea was dropped. In 1991 the campaign by some medical doctors in Lagos to legalize abortion led to the conduct of Opinion Poll on the matter. When the result of the poll came out, nearly half of every 10 Lagosians (that is, 47%) were opposed to it. Last Wednesday, a crowd of people comprising different people from different walks of life staged different Marches For Life in Lagos, Ibadan, Ogoja and Umuahia to stress that children are our values and should be allowed to stay alive.
The consequences of legalization of abortion are terrible. Look at what is happening in countries that have legalized abortion. I gather that in one village in one State in America, there are only three people left because abortion has been legalized in that State. But some Nigerian abortionists, who are making quick money from International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and abortion multinational organizations abroad, are lobbying seriously that abortion be legalized in Nigeria. Surprisingly, Nigeria, under the out-going Obasanjo government, has signed and ratified two international conventions making Nigeria as an abortion country. Of course, the stakeholders were never consulted before signing and ratifying these documents. One of the tasks facing the in-coming government is to re-visit these conventions. If abortion is illegal under our domestic laws, we cannot legalize it through the backdoor by signing and ratifying abortion conventions.