National Bureau of Statistics says that 0.2 per cent of men and 0.3 per cent of women in Nigeria are legally divorced, while under 1 per cent of couples admit to being separated. But this does not necessarily mean that Nigerian families are healthy, since the data does not take into cognisance traditional marriages. Besides, divorce rates is only one criteria for measuring a healthy family system; dysfunctional families, like Tolstoy suggested, manifest themselves in a plethora of forms.
But one woman, Mrs. Lovett Obiakalusi, is confident that the Nigerian family system is in crisis, with rising trends like same sex marriage and cohabitation of unmarried people. She is the founder of the Valiant Women Awards (VWA), a reward system that celebrates women who are upholding Christian values in their families. “God has a design for the family system and abandoning it is abandoning God, causing chaos all over the place,” she told THISDAY.
In 1999, she had started a non-profit, Women of Valour Global Mission, geared towards promoting Christian values in women, but only instituted VWA in 2016, when the Golden Woman of the Year Award was given to Mrs. Faith Nebechukwu Debekeme, an 86-year-old retired nurse who has been married for 58 years through “submission and unflinching love for her husband despite having just one female child.”
In July, VWA organised a seminar titled ‘Naked Truth’, hosting several speakers – Immanuel Okezie, George Ashiru, Orbby Agwuncha, and others – who spoke on topics ranging from sexual compatibility in marriage to how women should actively choose their spouses.
“You find out that people are still living in the old life, so it is necessary for us to begin to create awareness of our redemptive rights in Christ, which is why we came up with activities and programmes like this for families, because we needed to do something that will revive the family system,” Obiakalusi said. “We understand that the family is the bedrock of the society and you can’t have a viable family without a viable marriage.”
Stressing why the seminar was important, she added: “We are being fed too many lies. The young generation are being confused; they don’t know what the truth is anymore. So we need to begin to tell them that there are principles that you just can’t abandon because you feel you are in the modern age, especially when it comes to marriage and family. So we needed to tell them what the whole truth is and nothing but the truth.”
One of the seminar’s participants, Mary Chinda, told THISDAY: “I have had my mind shifted. I’ve realised that it’s not wrong for me to not want to rush into marriage and that building my capacity while waiting is the best thing to do. I’ve also learnt that divorce is not the end of it, that pain helps us to grow.”