Women Affairs Minister Bows To Pressure, Supports Mass Wedding for Orphan Girls in Niger

Women Affairs Minister Bows To Pressure, Supports Mass Wedding for Orphan Girls in Niger

by Victor Ndubuisi

In advance of their large-scale wedding today, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, the Minister of Women Affairs, has given gifts and scholarships to one hundred orphaned girls in Niger State. Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, is sponsoring the wedding.

Kennedy-Ohanenye first objected to the large-scale wedding, saying it was against the Child Rights Act. She had filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the Speaker and petitioned the Inspector General of Police to halt the wedding.

At a press conference in Abuja, the Minister explained her concerns. “I did not intend to stop the marriage but to be sure if the girls are of marriageable age and were not being forced into it,” she said. Kennedy-Ohanenye blamed the media for escalating the controversy, adding, “Every parent will want to marry out her wards if they attain the right age for marriage. The initial opposition to the planned marriage was misunderstood, hence the media war between my office and the Speaker’s.”

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In Niger, the Minister announced scholarships for the girls and gave them wrappers and food. Her Special Assistant on the Private Sector, Adaji Usman, represented the Minister. The objects were presented to the one hundred young ladies in Mohammed Muazu, the Emir of Kontagora,’s palace. 350 bags of 10 kg of rice, 100 wrappers, and ten Point of Sale equipment were presented by the Minister. She also said that any females who wanted to continue their studies might apply for scholarships up to the university level.


Additionally, the Emir of Kontagora donated a sewing machine to each girl. Kennedy-Ohanenye directed that bank accounts be opened for all 100 brides, with stipends sent to them for the next six months to help them settle into their new homes. She assured, “The girls will be closely monitored in their various husbands’ houses so that the objectives of the empowerment scheme would not be defeated.”

The Speaker of the House, Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, criticized the Minister for interfering in a cultural and religious issue without understanding the circumstances. He stated, “It was pure politics from my constituency. They misinformed the Minister that I am playing politics with the lives of the children by forcing them into marriage. But thank God today I have been vindicated. The Minister and the whole world have seen that these girls are of marriageable age and nobody is forcing them into it. It is being done with their consent.”

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Sarkindaji emphasized that his intention was to support the marriage of the 100 girls, most of whom are orphans due to insecurity in his constituency. “I decided to support the marriage out of genuine concern for these girls. It was with a pure heart,” he said. He also praised the Minister for the empowerment scheme, saying, “She has shown that she is a mother and really meant well for the girl child in this country.”

The Kontagoran emir expressed gratitude to God for the amicable settlement of the dispute. He attested to the fact that all required medical testing—including those for HIV/AIDS, genotype, Hepatitis B, and pregnancy—had been carried out and that the Minister’s delegates had received the results.


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