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Economic pressure, lack of understanding of essence of marriage reasons for high rate of divorce in Nigeria – Okoro

Economic pressure, lack of understanding of essence of marriage reasons for high rate of divorce in Nigeria – Okoro

Nkem Okoro, former deputy director at the Federal Ministry of Education, is also the founder of ‘The Wife,’ a non-governmental organisation (NGO), as well as a marriage counselor. In this interview with Ngozi  Okpalakunne, she spoke on the high rate of divorce in society, persistent hike in the cost of food items in the market, how it affects every sector of the nation’s economy, including education. Excerpts:

As a marriage counselor, what do you think is responsible for the high rate of divorce in society and how can this be checked?

There are so many factors that contribute to the high rate of divorce in the society. In the olden days, women do not work, so it is just the men that work and provide for the needs of the family. There is an adage that says, ‘he who pays the piper determines the tune,’ so then, the man feeds the wife and she is subject to the husband because he is her source of livelihood, happiness and life. But, nowadays, women work, they can therefore, take care of themselves and their children. Some women even have money more than their husbands; so, it is seen as one of the basic reasons for increased cases of divorce in the society today.

To such women, they do not see the reason why they will be under a man who according to them, is not contributing meaningfully to their lives. So, she can walk out of the marriage if there is any slight misunderstanding.

Another reason for divorce is irresponsibility on the side of the couple. Here, the spouses involved in the marriage are not responsible and the maturity is not there to understand the relationship they are in, hence the problem.

Some people see marriage as a contract, to such people, if it works that is fine, but if it does not, they walk away. When a couple involved understand the essence of marriage, the issue of divorce will not come in. According to the holy Bible, two is better than one. A couple should see themselves as a team and by so doing, will stay united to raise their children to become responsible individuals.

Then the issue of in-law or third-party involvement is another factor that leads to divorce. Here, the relatives want to know everything that is happening in the home. Often, this is said to be bordered on jealousy.

There is also the issue of denial of intimacy in the relationship. Couples are meant for each other; they should not deny each other conjugal love. Lack of effective communication among couples is another factor that could lead to divorce. Couples should talk openly. They should honestly educate themselves on different ways of making money for the family.

Marriage is divine, couples should invite God in their relationship, with this, the issue of divorce will not be mentioned in their families.

For those who want to get married, they should properly study their intending life partner, look at his family background, his or her source of income, his relationship with other people, the kind of friends he keeps, all these will go a long way in telling who he is (this also goes for the men preparing to marry), then you can prayerfully make a decision whether to go into the marriage or not.

The economic situation in the country is biting harder; cost of food items is on the rise on daily basis. Parents are withdrawing their children from school due to inability to pay school fees. What do you think is the implication of this for the future generation?

The increase in the cost of living is really alarming in Nigeria, though report indicated that it is virtually all over the world, but that of Nigeria is on a daily basis. In fact, it is affecting every facet of life, it has increased so high within the shortest possible time.

There is no way it will not affect education. It will affect the cost of running school by the proprietors. It will affect the bargaining power of the members of staff, if there are no reasonable increase in their salaries, there will not be job satisfaction and they will not be motivated to give their best. The teachers will also be forced to get money from other sources especially now that people are advised to survey multiple sources of income because only what they are paid will not sustain their family needs. You can imagine what will happen when teachers in the cause of looking for other sources of income, go into trading, farming, monitoring their investments and what have you, it will bring about divided interest and attention. The time they would have given to the children they teach, will be spent on other things.

Teachers are supposed to monitor and assist the children, but when they have other things taking their attention, their commitment will be affected drastically. When you look at also the type of educational output, the type of children that will be graduating from schools, you will find out that the standard would have fallen. The impact is terrible and much for anybody to comprehend.

Some people are saying that the government should declare economic emergency on food insecurity. When you declare state of emergency, it means that it has become a critical area for the government to focus much attention to. But, in the case of Nigeria, with very high human population, and the government having no money, how will they solve the problem of food insecurity?

We know that with God all things are possible. We are looking up to God for divine intervention because as it is, it is only God that will help the country out of the current helpless situation.

It has been observed that many youths are no longer interested in furthering their education; they prefer business that yield instant income such as cybercrimes. What do you think is responsible and how can their mindset be changed?

Our youths have lost confidence on the goodies education will bring to them. So, they see graduates as those who have gone to waste their time in the tertiary institutions because after their university education there will be no job. As a result, many young people because of hopelessness, have gone into many vices, such as cybercrimes. There is need for parents, guardians and even teachers in schools to start on time to let the youth know that there is nothing like white collar job. Such office jobs do not exist anymore. The youths need to pursue other means and aspects through which they can acquire wealth to sustain themselves.

In our organisation, “The Wife,’’ which was set up 18 years ago to train women and mothers on how to raise good children for societal transformation, we saw the need for wealth creation through other means and started early to train on skill acquisition.

During the holidays, parents can engage their children in some other institutes where they will learn some unique skills so that when they come out, they can apply those skills in doing jobs, earning incomes and taking care of themselves rather than moving all over the place looking for white collar employment that is not available.

There are lots of indices showing that the unemployment will continue to remain endemic, most of the manufacturing companies are closing down, and international companies leaving the country. The aspect of unemployment is deepening and you can imagine the number of people that have lost their jobs and pushed to the unemployment sector.

A lot of Nigerian male youths now dress like females, wearing dreadlocks, ear rings, among others. What is the implication of this?

Flow of information now is very fast; if something happened in Asia, America, the news will get to Nigeria almost the same time it happened in those countries. Technology is so much in use that the world, as it is said, is now global village. Every parent has to sit up and talk about it with their children because the consequences are very serious, what will happen to the institution of marriage? What will happen to what we call family? Do we start redefining family? How will you define family where homosexuality has taken a centre stage?

You can understand why some of these presidents of African nations are standing up to Western nations that they cannot subject them to accept homosexuality and legalising it in Africa. Parents and religious leaders should continue to stand up against such ills and let the youth know the grievous consequences of such practices.