Polygamy: A Cancerous Issue in Nigeria

by Sylvester Fadal

The legacy of one of the best past presidents of the United States is today threatened because he had an affair while in the Oval Office. The affair (relationship) wouldn’t have mattered much if he were a single man. In Nigeria, we are yet to view the issue of marriage to multiple women or infidelity as a political issue. This article is focused on the issue of polygamy among those who plan on running for high political offices and the relative compounded problems their personal chosen actions could have on the masses. Perhaps, we should make “being married to one woman” a political requirement. Beside the fact that this requirement will eliminate several candidates, it will create an intensity of scrutiny into the lives of those who plan on running for political office in the future by making them learn to maintain a non-polygamous home. The complexity and rubber band demand from extended relatives, often compounded by marriages to multiple wives, makes the eligibility of a politician realistically questionable as it creates an added need for possible greed.

One of the concerns I had with MKO presumably winning the presidency that was annulled by IBB in 1993, was the way Nigeria would have been perceived around the world when a highly polygamous man leads a country of such potential greatness. Given that I would rather have had MKO than all these inadequate performers of late, recognizing that he presumably won the election without readjusting the votes of the electorates. I have an issue with polygamy as it relates to compromised integrity among political and military figures, and OBJ is not any better though he has been able to hide the fact that he is legally married to more than one woman from the worldview. I, today recommend that to run for the highest political position in Nigeria, a piece of the qualification should be the need to be married to one woman only. Being married to one woman creates or should create (a) a high sense of focus, (b) less stress, (c) increase love and satisfaction, (d) a better understanding, (e) a close and happy family in most cases, (f) a much more manageable lifestyle and (g) a higher level of involvement in the lives of the children.

On the other hand, a president with two or more wives already has a long list of task to address before focusing on the issues of the nation. Among those tasks are:

1. Dealing with the complex problem of deciding whom to make the presidential trophy wife,

2. Deciding how to please the other wives and compensate them for playing low-key roles during the duration of the presidency,

3. Estimating the amount of money needed to provide special housing, security services, benefits, and other perks to all his wives and children,

4. Deciding how he would juggle the task of meeting his manly duties while in office among others, with these wives,

5. Planning special times to meet and discuss issues of vital importance to the wives and their individual siblings,

6. Meeting the special needs of the multiple in-laws and extended relatives of the various wives to ensure that they are all pleased,

7. Stressing over the welfare of the usually large number of children that are spread all over the globe relying on fatherly funds and/or contracts to live their high-roller lifestyles,

8. Juggling with the issues of remembering the names of additional girlfriends recognizing that men who have a propensity to marry multiple wives are often driven to seek more as they are yet to recognize the joy, benefits and satisfaction of being a one-woman man,

9. Handling the affairs of the nation and ways to place opponents in check which, is often the primary concern of incumbents,

10. Dealing with the usual goal of personal financial security of siphoning the most money out of the country to a multitude of foreign banks,

11. Deciding on whom to trust in the drive to gain wealth and eclipse the financial strength of the predecessor and,

12. Dealing with the task of making reasonable decisions that stands to affect the lives of over 120 million Nigerians.

Though Nigeria has advocacy groups that technically challenge decisions, acts and laws that may not benefit the masses, what is apparent is that most of these advocacy groups are often bought over with money, excepting some notable view like the NLC and the one-man crusader named Chief Gani Fawehimi. It is time we establish an advocacy group that will speak on the reputation of Nigeria as a nation and the way we are viewed across the world. The actions of a few Nigerians and/or our past and present leaders have greatly tarnished our image that rebuilding it should be of a high priority. A piece of that image management strategy should be to investigate in-depth, those who seek the highest political positions in the country. The old adage that “charity begins at home” essentially means values comes from within a person, family, the leaders of a household and/or nation, etc. Our president sometimes, as much as we hate to admit it, is our charity from the sense of commanding respect for Nigeria as a nation and Nigerians in general. The president must be held in high regard, must be impeccable if possible and most important, the president must look fit, intelligent and must have some charisma. I may be wrong but can anyone please tell me if OBJ, Abacha, or Abubakar, our last three presidents have any charisma?

MKO for instance, as best as I remember, loved his wives and showcased them at various times. Now, imagine if a president with more than one spouse decides to patronize them all and showcase them across the world during various presidential trips. The world press would go crazy trying to remember “Kuburatu Eniola Abiola*” from “Oluwatoyin Modupe Abiola*” or say a third or fourth wife. The picture of one wife may be mistaken for another especially by foreign press, after the mountainous head wrapper is placed on the head like a crown, making the face partially concealed. We may be the laughing stock of the world. What do I care some may ask, but the president’s actions/prominence and international engagements are representations of our country. Though these issues are secondary to the importance of ruling a nation, it is certainly of interest to note these fine points play fundamental roles in deciding the focus of a man and or nation sometimes. The world may not recognize that the president with four wives was not voted into power legitimately (indicated by the past few elections) and may question the people that view these folks as qualified candidates. For now, let us ask all potential candidates to declare their wife/wives and the number of children, in-laws, etc they have and maybe, just maybe, this may actually swing the number of votes they get.

Some may argue that marrying multiple wives is cultural and inherently part of whom we are. They may equate polygamy to having one spouse and maintaining several concubines. It may plausibly look true but the point is, both are challenging, expensive on the masses, risky, emotionally and physically binding and ultimately, it will cost the people. Nigeria is getting over-populated as it is and in recognition of the manacle of poverty in which, most Nigerians find themselves as a result of bad leadership, I disagree in advance with those that may justify polygamy using cultural validation or legal leanings, because the law of the land allows it, the environment accepts it, the people condone it and most pastors avoid speaking on the issue. The reality is, those who marry multiple wives don’t do it because it is cultural, they, do it because it is acceptable and legal. Once the legality is eliminated, it becomes a violation of the law. I am not advocating a law at this time but a referendum that makes it a political issue for those with more than one spouse to be eliminated from running for political offices because their loyalty to the populace are often compromised at a much greater extent. Polygamy only creates bigger and growing problems, sometimes for the children and others affiliated with the party engaged in the act. Polygamy spreads diseases (think about it), stagnates the ability to spread love among the children rightfully, and creates a propensity for unimaginable greed. Enacting a voter’s law that disqualifies all potential candidates with more than one spouse may moderate the act.

As farfetched as this proposition may be, recognizing more obvious primary problems prevalent within the country, it is potentially achievable and the approach to accomplishing this goal is not intended to be a 100 meters dash but a marathon that can be achieved over time through persistence, focus and perseverance. We must pace ourselves, we must discourage the act and most of all, we must complete the race hopefully over a few generations. The fundamental thrust of it all is that in a country that is striving to grow and hopefully improve the lives of its citizens, we must begin to find a way to address the plethora of problems by shifting away from the theology of our forefathers if it doesn’t fit the norm anymore. Merely raising the issue now has set a mechanism in place. Let’s go preach the gospel on this issue for the sake of our country, as this deep-rooted cultural act doesn’t fit anymore, at least not in my neighborhood. For the independents who, don’t plan on relying on the funds of the people through political thievery, I could care less if you have 25 or more wives. If it pleases you, make hail and enjoy your assets. This is my subjective opinion/recommendation. Now, back to my well-earned vacation.

* Fictitious names.

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Anonymous January 8, 2006 - 10:21 pm

Polygamy: A Cancerous Issue in Nigeria

Excellent article.

I truly identify with the title of this article. The questions I need answers for are 1) 'Who truly desire a polygamous relationship when at inertia all human beings have tendencies of self-centeredness'and 2) 'Do we really need to complicate our increasingly stressful lives with the added issues of polygamy'

On a personal note, I reckon polygamy should be banned in Nigeria as at most the risks/cost outweighs its benefits. I need not go into details seeming that is well glaring throughout your article.

Good stuff !

Kind regards,



Anonymous August 12, 2005 - 12:45 am

Amen brother. When women are equal Nigeria will take its place among leaders. Men need to stop being so greedy.

Rotimi April 10, 2005 - 12:00 pm

As much as I believe people should have a right to what they want if legal, I think your article is thoughtful and realistic. Thank you.

ACO April 10, 2005 - 11:14 am

Your article seems to suggest that polygamy is immoral and disfunctional. I am not saying that polygamy is perfect, but monogamy cannot be said to be a better choice. Take the US for example where 50% of all marriages end in divorce.

Marriage is hard work and you have to allow people contract marital relationships in a manner that meets their needs.


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