Marriage could be described as the intimate union and equal partnership of a man and a woman. It is also a natural institution and sacred union ordained by God.
The church teaches that the valid marriage between two baptized Christians is also a sacrament, a saving reality and a symbol of Christ’s love for His church.
In every marriage, the spouses make a contract with each other, while in a sacrament marriage, the couple also enters a covenant in which their love is sealed and strengthened by God’s love.
However, this common feature in Christendom is gravely under attack by the current economic downturn in Nigeria. While the number of weddings consecrated in many churches visited by correspondents in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) dropped drastically in 2016, some others did not celebrate any wedlock at all.
At St. James Catholic Church, Dawaki, the church secretary, who refused to be named, disclosed that the number of weddings in the church in the outgone year was very low. He said only about three couples wedded, campared to seven in 2015.
He explained that the parish council, worried about the situation, on inquiry discovered that the high cost of living occasioned by the economic crisis was the immediate cause.
The parish scribe disclosed that some form of incentive has been instituted by the parish to encourage bachelors and spinsters to wed in the church:
“As the situation is now, the church council has agreed to give whosoever that is ready to wed in God’s Holy Ordinances the necessary support. The last wedding ceremony we conducted, the church played a vital role for the success of that wedding while we are ready to do more.”
At the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Nyanya Abuja Diocese, only five weddings were conducted as at November last year though one member of the church took his wedding to a town in Ogun State.
A source in the church said that it had not been this way for several years but prayed that 2017 would be much better. It was gathered that nine weddings were consecrated in the church in 2015.
At the Gwagwalada branch of Living Faith Church, the pastor stated that the branch had not celebrated any wedding as at mid-November when a reporter visited but he said that a prospective couple suspended their wedding plans because of the economic situation in the country, adding that the church would plan a mass wedding in 2017 to make up for those who could not wed last year.
‘Abuja marriage’ returns
‘Abuja marriage’ was a way of life, a survival strategy in Abuja, following the sudden movement of civil servants from Lagos to the nation’s capital in compliance with the directive of the then military leader, General Ibrahim Babangida, in the early 1990s.
From then till early 2000, several marriages suffered and many homes were shattered because the spouses stayed apart: while one was in Abuja, the other lived in another part of the country. Many of the married men succumbed to the temptation of ‘Abuja girls’, just as their female counterparts had love children or the burden of infidelity to contend with.
As for the countless singles that cohabited because of limited accommodation in the FCT, a reasonable number of them ended up as husbands and wives.
This sort of union, in most cases, was without the knowledge or approval of the parents and families of the couples.
According to Isa Taidi from Kaduna State, who works in a publishing company, an Abuja marriage is one in which a lady wants to be accommodated with the intention of having the man shoulder responsibilities as a lover, while an irresponsible man falls into the trap and becomes an unprepared husband because “Such people are mostly people who love cheap things and do not want to pay dowry.”
A respondent, Miss Chioma Daniel, who recently graduated from the university, reevaled that such marriages do not last, which was why there are now many cases of divorce in Abuja.
Daniel noted that many parents of couples entangled in Abuja marriage only get to know when unforeseen circumstances like death or fatal accidents occur.
Notwithstanding the hazards inherent in Abuja marriage, our checks indicated that the present economic hardship is seemingly pushing bachelors and spinsters into it.
While difficulty in paying rent now makes people to cohabit, unlike in the recent past, some others who might want to get married lack the resources to formalise their union, hence they resort to livingtogether.
A civil servant, Stella Irabor, said that she was considering moving in with her fiancé, because they cannot continue contemplating marriage without actualising it for almost four years.
To Irabor, “Going to live with him now is the only option for me. We had thought our wedding would hold in November, but the hardship in the country this time around is unbearable. How can we be talking about marriage with the cost of ordinary rice, not to talk of other requirements?.”
A wedding planner, Kennedy Odittah, expressed doubts about whether any conservative wedding could be organised with less than N500,000 in Nigeria now, explaining that the venue, entertainment of guests and clothes for the couple alone would cost as much or even more than that amount.
He noted that the intending couple would also be expected to have taken care of their traditional marriage rites: “All these scare young people away from marriage, while some of them merely marry according to their own tradition and begin to live together.”
Source: Daily Sun