ABUJA — Upset by Senate bid to peg official marriage age in Nigeria at 18, northern youths, yesterday, lashed out at the lawmakers, warning them not to stoke the embers of religious war over the controversial legislation.
The Senators had last week voted in favour of amending the Nigerian Constitution to set the marriage age at 18, a decision that was promptly challenged by former Zamfara governor, Ahmed Yerima, who described the decision of the lawmakers as anti-Islam.
Apparently joining forces with Yerima, who also initiated Sharia in his state when he was governor, Arewa youths asked the Senators to desist from taking action on the matter so as not to further heat up the polity along religious, ethnic and political lines and create avoidable cold war.
The President of the Arewa Youth Forum, Alhaji Gambo Gujungu, said in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, that the Senators had missed the point in amending the law and exposed themselves as people who were confused on what to do to justify their presence in the upper chambers of the National Assembly.
“The approach by the Senate to this matter shows how grossly insensitive and poorly equipped they are in the rudiments of legislative functions and totally insensitive to the critical challenges Nigerians are facing as a people,” the AYF leader said.
“The Senate must be told in plain terms since it has lost focus, that their core function as parliamentarians is not to debate, moderate or decide religions for Nigerians, or to divide Nigerians on Christian-Muslim basis or North and South factions.
“They must also be made to know that their function does not include breeding religious war from their politicization of the Constitution Amendment exercise but to make laws for peace, good governance, stability and indivisibility of the Nigerian Federation as contained in Part II, Section Four (1,2,3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The senators must be told that what Nigerians expect is basically principled oversight functions to address insecurity tearing the country apart, the increasing unemployment rate, collapse of health, education, agriculture and dilapidated infrastructure.
“Another expectation of Nigerians from the Senate is to address monumental corruption being perpetrated with impunity by elected public office holders and top government officials that has stifled Nigeria any meaningful development in Nigeria for decades.
“But we are sad to note that the Senate has been painfully reduced from that honoured pedigree to a mere religious moderation centre and place of petite issues that tend to divide the citizens along religious and ethnic lines and not an arm of government that should confront our national challenges.
The youths warned the lawmakers to abandon the attempt to further instigate friction in Nigeria by ensuring that every Nigerian has the religious Freedom to practice their faith without harassment, limitation and intimidation.