Monday, August 29, 2005

Archive: Four Wives and a GiSim Divorce

* It has always bothered me somewhat, that a rejoinder to a piece of mine published in 2003 is available on the web, whilst the original article by my very self, wasn't. Not so anymore! I now reproduce the original piece. Readers can read and compare with the rejoinder - and make their own minds up.

Atiku: Four Wives and a GiSim Divorce
By Molara Wood

Many a Nigerian life today is being led under the influence of GSM. It came, and the dynamics of our human relationships are forever altered. Poorly connected and interrupted calls have inevitably led to poorly connected and interrupted lives, as one wife in Adamawa State found out recently - to her cost.

I return sooner than anticipated to the subject of Atiku Abubakar’s not so merry wives. Recently, I touched very fleetingly on: (a) how confusing it was keeping up with the many wives of the Vice-President; (b) how, with a wife from each of the main ethnic groups, Atiku could actually be the master of Wazobian politics; and (c) how the wives’ public profiles seem to alter in line with prevailing political wisdom. No sooner had I committed these thoughts to paper and, hey presto! Things got even more confusing.

My asides had been inspired by news that Adamawa State Governor, Bonnie Haruna, had appointed as Permanent Secretary Atiku’s second wife, Hajiya Ladi. Even as I wrote then, I was aware of US based Jennifer Atiku Abubakar who has been touted in the last year or so as Atiku’s "second wife". Well, can a man have two "second" wives? As Americans would say, "do the math". Something had to give, and it would appear something has.

Hajiya Ladi’s appointment could have been a serious miscalculation on Governor Haruna’s part, or Atiku’s way of softening the blow of what he was to do next. Either way, it was Hajiya Ladi’s swansong; for a coup of sorts has taken place in the nation’s second household. In order to finally make an honest woman of Jennifer, Atiku recently sent an SMS message to Ladi declaring: "I divorce you. I divorce you. I divorce you". And Lord knows you can’t reason with an SMS message, you can’t plead, it doesn’t see your tears. And so it was that Hajiya Ladi’s marriage of many years’ standing, which produced many children, was unceremoniously GiSiMed.

You may think it was not strictly necessary to divorce Ladi since as a Moslem, Atiku is allowed four wives. Problem was, he already had his quota, and Jennifer was actually the potential fifth wife masquerading as the second. Other wives include Hajiya Fati, who retains a fresh faced prettiness in spite of a busy child bearing career. She recently allowed a magazine to cover a dinner party she gave for her husband (perhaps her way of telling Nigerians: "I am also here o!"). Fati is said to be apolitical so I guess PDP and 2007 would not be her preferred dinner table talk.

Then there is the enigmatic Ha’aja Aishat who lives in Yola - divorcing the daughter of the Lamido of Adamawa would be like, "don’t even go there". But Atiku must have his Jennifer, and Jennifer must have her Atiku. In the process of elimination therefore, Hajiya Ladi became expendable.

Some men climb Kilimanjaro, others reach for the peak of Everest, but Atiku Abubakar - Wazobia’s political adventurer - has his sights set on the ascension of Aso Rock. The battle for the 2007 presidential election has begun and is turning out to be pretty much a two horse race between Atiku and the Okocha of Minna, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. IBB has already released his Weapons of Mass Deception, his Yoruba foot soldiers (alas, we are nation of Yes Men!). Atiku, on the other hand, is constrained by his present office from openly throwing his hat into the ring - so he threw his wife instead. The mind veers at this point to Oliver Sacks’ book: "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat". Sounds something like Atiku.

The marital cruise missile is Jennifer, the ace up Atiku’s sleeve. Sophisticated and beautiful, fragrant and delicate - with a diamond carat brain - what’s there not to like about Jennifer? If she didn’t exist she would have had to be specially made. For 2007, the North’s stake in the Vice-President is undeniable; the South West also has sufficient interest in him, thanks to first wife Titi. Yoruba historians have already told us anyway, that as an indigene of Adamawa, Atiku is a descendant of Oduduwa. The East, however, will take some convincing; and that’s where the Igbo Jennifer comes in. Following his digital divorce, Atiku changed her name to Jemila and swept her off to her folks in Onitsha to go and do the do.

These are worrying times for Titi Abubakar whose status as Atiku’s official wife looks set to erode with the rise and rise of the wife formerly known as Jennifer. An amazon, Hajiya Titi is statuesque enough to make the name Abubakar sound regal, with the dignity of ten Stella Obasanjos. And if some photographs of Titi in the papers are anything to go by, she also packs loads more style than Bella Stella. While the self aggrandising Yeye Oranmiyan of Ife preens around the country as "the only" First Lady, Titi has been busy achieving a historic first. Her campaign work against human trafficking has produced the first privately sponsored Bill ever passed into law in Nigeria.

With these attributes, and her instant recognition as the Vice-President’s wife, Titi Abubakar’s position ought to have been unshakeable. But with a husband intent on playing the Wazobia card in the run up to 2007, Titi finds herself in danger of being torpedoed by the tiny tornado that is Jemila. When it comes to determining the pecking order of Atiku’s wives, simple arithmetic will not do. Advanced calculus may be useful though, for the fifth wife is set to become the first. It gives a new meaning to the biblical promise: the first shall be the last and the last shall be the first.

Jemila the flower, it turns out, has a steely stem. And if Atiku has his way in 2007, she is to be our First Lady - our Hillary. The Vice-President’s Special Assistant on Media Affairs, Alhaji Garba Shehu, has said that assumptions or calculations as to the potential gains from Atiku’s marriage to Jemila would be in bad taste and would amount to an invasion of privacy. Erm, not quite, Alhaji Shehu. If our Vice-President parades an assortment of wives in full view of the nation, it is only to be expected that the confused people will begin to wonder. Moreover, with the chronic First Ladyism now being visited upon us, it is clear that a vote in the 2007 presidential election will also be a vote for the First Lady. Having been accustomed to Titi as Atiku’s official wife, should she be inexplicably replaced at "President" Atiku’s side by a newer model in 2007, it sure would help if we knew how we got from A to B. So the privacy argument just won’t wash.

Islamic leaders have denounced Atiku’s divorce from Hajiya Ladi as immoral. The Koran does not permit a man to divorce one wife purely to marry another, and most definitely not as a political masterstroke.
Ironically, should Atiku become the occupant of Aso Rock, the female population will be hoping for woman-friendly policies from the government of a man who divorced his wife by GSM. Some of his apologists have suggested it was actually done by normal telephone. Gentle reader, is the poison any sweeter if administered by telephone?

The best thing about Atiku could actually be the quality of his wives, and the GiSiMed Hajiya Ladi by all accounts, is no shrinking violet. We are told she will keep busy with her many political interests. I wish her luck and hope she finds some consolation in words recently attributed to Iyiola Omisore, a man tragically absent when God was handing out a quality most desirable in politicians: the ability to choose one’s words carefully. Asked if the Vice-President was his political backer, the Senator replied: "I don’t believe in any Atiku anywhere … I don’t give a damn. Who is Atiku?"

  • This article was published on Nigeria2Day Online, September 16, 2003. It was later broadcast on Naija.FM, a UK-based community Radio Station.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was a well written article. Nigerian politics really sickens me.

Women need to start running things in that country. Obviously the men have distroyed everything our fore fathers worked for.

most of the blame when it comes to moral issues should be laid at the feet of Nigeria women. They would sell their souls for money.

11:38 pm, December 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why on earth would an educated, young and attractive woman get involved with a man who has four (4) wives? She is educated and could command a decent salary commensurate with her skills.
Or, is it prestigious to marry a polygamous man because he aspires to be president or, because he is a millionaire?

God help her.

6:46 pm, March 09, 2006  

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