by Moyo Salvador
President Goodluck Jonathan has finally signed off on a bill to criminalize homosexuality with an attendant 14 year sentence for defaulters. A large number of Nigerians have celebrated this news and lauded the gesture and it and I’m marvelled at how once again the leadership of the country has succeeded in taking our minds off the big picture.
Nigeria is in a state of disarray; they say $49.8 billion in crude funds is missing, then again they say, it’s just $12 billion. University students have just returned to school after a forced 6-month holiday with no real assurance that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will not strike again. There’s no electricity, no water, no proper health care and the life of the average Nigerian is worth less than that of an American pet. At this critical time in our nation, is homosexuality really our biggest problem?
Terrorists have run amok, killed thousands of innocent citizens; wives, husbands, children and at some point, the option of amnesty was even considered; a promise of forgiveness if they only stopped tormenting the government. These are men whose hands are soaked and dripping in blood of those whose only crime is being citizens of Nigeria. They were about to get a cushy retreat at the expense of the very populace they sought to destroy.
Every day we hear of “suspects” getting killed in the “war against terror”. How do we know that innocent citizens aren’t being felled? How are we so sure they aren’t caught between a rock and a hard place, between murderers and a government that doesn’t really ‘give a damn’?
Monsters and demons in the guise of men are raping children and getting away with it daily. The Nigerian rape law is in shambles. It is only in Nigeria that raping a child is treated as a lesser offence than raping an adult. “Defilement” they call it. A man raped a 24-month-old baby and got sentenced to a year in prison. Emmanuel Obott, who was 46 at the time, raped both his daughters continuously, got one pregnant and forced her to have an abortion.
In a more organised society, he’d have been charged with counts of rape, gross sexual imposition, felonious assault and aggravated murder for purposely causing the unlawful termination of his daughter’s pregnancy. He’d never again see the light of day. But what did the Nigerian judiciary do? They sentenced him to 7 years in prison.
People are being murdered with impunity and no one is being brought to justice. Soldiers and police officers, servants of the people, are killing and maiming innocent citizens day after day and getting away with it. People are being kidnapped and killed in broad daylight and we still don’t know who killed Bola Ige, the Attorney General at the time, or Funso Williams.
Women are being killed by their husbands. Domestic abuse is on the rise like never before and the efforts of ordinary citizens to curb this are more obvious than the government’s. Someone I know had two neighbours beaten to death by their husbands and the men were allowed to go free so that their children could have at least one parent left.
We have no data. We don’t know how many people died during the 2011 election riots. Come to think of it, we don’t even know how many people died on the ground on the day of the ill-fated Dana Airline crash. Doctors are forgetting things in vulnerable patients’ bodies after surgeries and botching simple procedures and they are still practicing and endangering lives.
These are only a few of the major issues currently plaguing the nation and yet our legislators deem it fit to lock up consenting adults who choose to do whatever in the privacy of their homes? So again I have to ask those who are celebrating the ‘landmark’ decision to keep homosexuals locked up for 14 years while terrorists and rapists and murderers roam free: Is homosexuality our biggest problem?
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.
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