Before the advent of the one man one wife practice prevalent today in some parts of Nigeria, our traditional society across Nigeria and indeed Africa accepted polygamy as a way of life. In fact most adults today in Nigeria either had parents or grandparents who practiced polygamy hence grew up in homes of many wives and many children with different mothers.
Apart from our cultures, even the scriptures made it clear how a polygamous husband should relate and be just to his wives. In Deuteronomy 21 verse 15, God through His Prophet Moses said thus: If a man marries two wives, one beloved and another “hated”…he must be fair to both of them and should not rob the rights of the hated for the one he loves. That means even God endorsed polygamy but with a condition of being fair to all.
On the issue of even hating one of the wives, I believe that no human being should be hated for any reason and that human beings should learn to tolerate and help one another to overcome their weaknesses rather than hate fellow human beings. For me, every human being is created good but many have lost their direction and what a leader, especially in the context of Nigeria of today should do is to overlook all forms of anti- nation building sentiments being exhibited and promoted by some citizens and politicians, and rather help Nigerians discover themselves, in order for them to be restored to the initial good nature God created in them.
Now, coming back to the issue of polygamy, it is of note that irrespective of the bickering and challenges associated with it, the polygamous men were able to manage the entire family and today most of our great leaders came from such families. But, the question is, how were these men able to handle those challenges of many wives yet succeeded in bequeathing to us a society of high cultural, communal and moral values?
In my view, one of the things I can identify is that the men/husbands were able to balance the interests of the various wives as well as treated everybody equally in the family. Reason: if they didn’t treat the family with that level of wisdom, there is no way there wouldn’t have been noticeable explosive crises in such families. That is not to say they had a perfect union, but like other people practicing monogamy, nobody has a perfect union but the ability to manage the challenges in a marriage as they arise make the union successful.
Secondly, the commitment to the workability of the marriage was total because divorce was not a ready option in those days. All these factors and others not mentioned here made marriages to overcome serious challenges in those days since everyone was creative and ready to make sacrifices to make things work since there was no going back.
This is the same scenario we find ourselves today in Nigeria. Since we have agreed to stay together as a country, we need to apply the wisdom of successful polygamous marriages to harmonise all the ethnic groups and different interests in order to build a solid nation for all. As a nation, the lesson to be learned here is that any Nigerian leader who aspires and becomes the President of the nation must see himself or herself as a polygamous husband that has many wives and interests to cater for fairly and justly. Also, anybody aspiring to lead Nigeria and turns his face to only one of the wives (ethnic or religious groups or interests) and the other women notice it, he should of course know that he wants to make the family/nation crises ridden and underdeveloped because you cannot marry a woman into your home and neglect or abandon her and you expect her to be silent forever.
Nigeria is a polygamous marriage of different ethnic groups, cultures, traditions, religions and other interests, therefore, every ethnic group, religion and citizen should be treated fairly and equally for Nigeria to excel in the comity of nations.
Therefore let all those aspiring to be Nigeria leaders learn the lessons of successful polygamous marriages and apply such to the management of all ethnic groups, political parties, religions, professional and social groups, etc., in the constituencies they are expected to lead. If our leaders adopt this attitude, the cooperation needed for Nigeria to grow speedily will be achieved.
But any leader from the councillor to the president who wears the garb of a polygamous husband who plans to show love to only one wife or section of the society or country to the detriment of others, the problem of Nigeria will remain and we may continue to be hungry in the midst of plenty and be bedevilled by unwanted crises. Everybody is equal before God, so if we claim to serve God, our leaders should also treat all Nigerians equally.
All sections of Nigeria need good roads, constant electricity, more jobs, good health centres, better security, etc., and what our leaders are expected to do is to be unbiased and look at issues on merit nationwide, because injustice cannot be hidden no matter how much you try to deceive the people.
I therefore call on all Nigerian voters to look out for the antecedents and qualities of those contesting and vote right because our votes will either strengthen the Naira and guarantee peace, thereby making life better for everyone or weaken the currency and stir up crisis, and lamentation will continue. Let us play down on negative ethnic, religious, financial and other sentiments in choosing our leaders because every choice made in the elections will take another four years of our lives to change. Never sell your vote because if you do, you have accepted to be a physical and spiritual slave to those you collected money from. Vote right and vote the dictates of your conscience.
––Esanerovo Agbodo, firstname.lastname@example.org