Written by Ere-ebi AGEDAH

A day at AMAC marriage registry

Marriage among Nigerians seems to be on a steady decline, as more and more singles appear to be taking their time before settling down.

While some analysts may want to attribute this marital delay to unemployment, poor economic condition and cultural restrictions, some others say educational advancement and acceptance could also be responsible for the high rate of late marriages in the country, as men and women now want to have one or more advanced degrees before settling down.

A visit to the marriage registry at the Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC, may however cast a shadow on the notion of decline in the number of marriages in the country as quite a number of marriages are consummated at the registry on a daily basis.

Investigations by The Abuja Inquirer shows that approximately 280 to 300 marriages are legalized monthly, with a total of 3, 360 couples said to be united in marriage at the AMAC registry annually.

When our correspondent got to the registry at about 10:30am that fateful Wednesday morning, two couples were about to be joined in wedlock. Both couples looked simple, one of the brides wore a red patterned dress and her husband to be on a black suit without a tie.

The other couple, the bride well-advanced, was well decked in bridal gown and her man properly dressed with their witnesses dressed to match their parts.

As the first couple was called forward, Flavour’s Ada Ada blared from the speakers. They took their vows before the registrar and exchange rings to the applause of the audience.

The AMAC court registrar, Mr. Akinwumi Akintayo, who spoke to this newspaper, explained that the court formalizes an average of 10 couples in a day. This easily translates is to an average of 10 men get married to 10 ladies in the FCT on a daily basis. 

Akintayo told our correspondent he finds it difficult to agree with the argument that there is a decrease in the number of marriages as was recorded in the past. According to him, those who argue that there is a steady decline in the number of marriages do so without any statistics backing their arguments.

Having been on the job for over 20 years, Akintayo said he has had the privilege of witnessing the accommodative nature of Nigerians, with a lot of inter religious and tribal marriages legalized at the registry regularly.

He argues that the laxity provided in court marriages has made more people opt for court marriages over other types of marriages, since couple can save themselves the financial cost often associated with traditional and religious weddings.

According to Akintayo, the registrar is to the court as the priest is to the church, he sees to the solemnization of marriages, counsels intending couples as well as general marriage lessons that every intending couple should go through before signing the marriage register.

Speaking on requirement for court weddings, the registrar said, “For every intending couple you must attain the marriageable age of 18years without which such persons cannot be joined by law. A process that involves 21days will be embarked upon wherein the couple is asked to advertise their intentions to be married to the world. The notice or advert will be put up for 21 days, it involves some basic information about the couple with their passports equally attached to it.

He said this will enable the court ascertain that none of the party is legally married to someone else, as none can be joined to another in a court when he or she is still married to another person.

Recounting an experience at the Bwari court registry where a couple almost lost the chance of getting married, Akintayo said that after a notice was put up, “a man walked up to our office and informed us that the intending groom was already married to his sister. So we, as is our rule, reported the case to the court and the notice was ruled as forbidden with the process put on hold. We then referred the couple to the court, and after proper investigation, the groom was discharged and we continued the process and eventually married the couple.”

With a token of N10, 000 the registrar told METRO that couples can have their marriages legalized, but this is not to conclude that the court marriages are cheaper, as a couple can decided to make their court wedding as elaborate as they want it to be and as simple as it can be.

“You can come with your whole family and village to the court, celebrate in a very big way. We have a big hall here and you can decide to fill it up with all your family members, it’s the choice of the couple to make.

“Although the law says the couple and two witnesses, one for the husband and one for the wife, there is no law prohibiting couples from having an elaborate or small wedding. You can celebrate it as big as a church wedding, big reception and all; no one should say the court marriage is cheaper. It all depends on the couple, but we have recorded more simple court marriages than elaborate ones as the court recognizes the presence of four persons.”

Also speaking on the issue of decline in the number of marriages, a staff at a new generation bank, who simply gave his name as Daniel, said not many marriages are being carried out due to the high expectations of the parties involved.

Daniel decried the rate at which most ladies, especially those in the FCT, expect young men to own mansions in posh districts of the city as well as own a fat bank account before agreeing to settle down.

He added that some employers’ preference of females in job recruitments has left many young men single and unemployed.

“These days the ladies seem to be landing the juicy jobs, living most men unemployed. So how do you expect the man to bear marriage cost, as required in most traditions, when he can barely even feed himself?”

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