Tuesday, 24 March 2015


A GIRL came to the Messenger of Allah (SAW), and reported that her father had forced her to marry without her consent. The Messenger of God gave her the choice between accepting the marriage or invalidating it. The girl said: Actually, I accept this marriage, but I wanted to let women know that parents have no right to force a husband on their child (Ibn-Majah).
   Historically, what is called child marriage, minor marriage or teenage marriage has been with us since time immemorial – in both religions and cultures. Around 50BC Cleopatra married her 10-year-old brother Ptolemy XIII; Mary (AS), the mother of Jesus Christ (AS) probably got married to a 90 year-old Joseph when she was only 12 or 14 years old (Catholic Encyclopaedia). In the Muslim book of hadith, Aisha (RA), the third wife of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), was by her own account only a teenager at the time of her marriage to the prophet (SAW). In more recent time, due to the 1371 plague in Europe, the average age at marriage for men was 24 and 16 for women. From the Indian 1921 census report, there were over 600 brides in India’s majority community in the age group of one to 12 months alone!
   Currently in Africa, South Africa and Tanzania have the lowest allowable age of marriage for females at 12. All European countries allow marriage for females at 16 (except Turkey 17), in the United States there is no clear law prohibiting early marriage; in most of the states teenagers of 16 or 17 years of age only need to fill out a parental consent form to have their marriage recognised while younger brides and grooms (14 or 15 years of age) only need to show the written consent of both parents. These early marriages are not necessarily illegal and outlawed according to the norms and standards of their time and societies, and surely the people did/do not necessarily have difficulties accepting such marriages as normal. Rather various examples seem to strongly suggest that there is no place in the world at some time where the practice of the minor’s marriage was wholly abandoned.
   The controversy surrounding the alleged marriage of the former governor of Zamfara State, Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima of an Egyptian teenager who is believed to be 13 years old however has to it different interesting dimensions. Senator Yerima is revealed as a veteran for minor marriages. He is reported to have recently divorced a 17 year-old he married only three years ago and there are suggestions that he could have taken undue advantage of the vulnerability of the family of his alleged child bride for whom he is said to have paid the whooping sum of $100,000.00 as dowry – the little bride’s father is reported to have been his driver in Cairo. If all these information are pulled together and proven to be facts, it will be easy to recognise that the marriage can be anything but conscionable and informed nor akin to one contracted between consenting parties. Not surprisingly, very strong opinions are being expressed for and against the actions of the senator.
   According to the UN Child Summit Declaration of 1990, the later Declaration of 2002, and the Child Rights Act 2003 the child is the one under 18. Thus in the language of these instruments, any marriage between a young man or a young woman of up to 17 in age are considered to be “early”. When questioned on the issue, the only excuse the senator used to justify his actions is the example of Aisha’s (RA) marriage to the prophet, stating that he has not acted against the Sharia. The senator’s attempt to graft this important historical event on his own peculiar situation and exploit it as a theological explanation is both shameful and flawed. On November 22 2006, ministers, politicians and scholars from almost 50 Muslim states gathered for two days in the Moroccan capital of Rabat for the first Islamic Childhood Conference, and called for amongst other things “measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against girls and all harmful traditional or customary practices, such as child marriage and female genital mutilation”.
   The Al-Azhar Al-Sharif in Egypt, the highest religious body in the (Sunni) Islam, recently released a new manual on the rights of children. The manual states in part; “Marriage in Islam is regulated by certain rules, namely, children must reach puberty and maturity so that they can get married”. In Islam it is certainly possible for a father to get his daughter married to someone who he thinks is suitable for her. However, marrying a young teenager under the somewhat shoddy circumstances surrounding the senator’s wedding is something totally different. To say that these marriages are valid is not to say that he should go ahead and make them. In Muslim law, on attaining puberty and (emotional, psychological, mental) maturity, even in that instance, a marriage only becomes permissible; not mandatory by any interpretation.
   The fact that the old practice of child marriage was not of Islam’s creation as shown above, that some great Muslim jurists of the past disapproved it on the authority of the Quran, that the law in many Muslim countries does not allow it, go to show that people considering doing it must weigh their fantasies on the scale of their conscience. But such a weighty matter must not only be left to individual’s conscience, the society should reject the notion that a teenage girl is simply fit for marriage only because she is biologically able to bear children. Using the societal problem of prostitution as an excuse for marrying off young children is all about fixing the mirror, not fixing the reflection Nigerians see in the mirror. Since Senator Yerima swore an oath to uphold the laws of this country, and if his actions violated any aspects of our law, it should be seen that he is held accountable to the law he contested and swore to uphold. This would be the right thing to do.
   It leaves much to be desired that a Nigerian senator, not for the first time, is carving out a reputation for himself as targeting vulnerable minors for marriage. It is condemnable when such a trait is found amongst ordinary citizen, but more damaging when someone with the senator’s political office and credentials continues to show utter recklessness and disregard to the safeguards of the practice. Hopefully, this shocking episode will be the Senator’s last and will not become the order of the day amongst our political class who should have the courage to tell Senator Yerima to leave these kids alone to concentrate on their studies.
   Lastly, anyone listening to or reading some of the materials coming from the women civil society groups will mistakenly assume that the UN Child Summit Declarations and Child Rights Act 2003 are only about minor marriage while they are not. With so much zeal and great fervour, their protests definitely show how easy it is to get onto the wrong side of a good argument. These protesting mothers should focus their energy and channel their resources on ensuring that children are empowered to resist possible exploitation by adults for marriage or any other exploitative purposes, while lobbying to see that the national laws protecting their overall rights and welfare in the country are strengthened. Too many children in the country do not have access to food and education – a dysfunctional state of being in our country that has forced many into the detestable trade of prostitution (a wrong premise that some are exploiting to support the call for child marriage); fight against the greater evil of the sale of children, child mortality, child prostitution, child pornography, female circumcision, forced exploitative labour and the killing of children on the spurious allegation of witchcraft by charlatans should all be part and parcel of laws and measures that will protect children rights, welfare and give them the education and skills they need to confront any exploitative or cruel situation they confront. These are the battles that require all of us to stand shoulder-to-shoulder to fight and win on behalf of our children.
• Kamor is Director of Media and Communications, Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC), Nigeria. This article, with slight modifications, was first published on Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


Culled from The Guardian Newspaper

WHAT is the age when men and women can legally have sex in Nigeria?  This is a round about way of asking what is the age of consent?  A simple question; but an extra-ordinarily complicated one.  The new Child rights Legislations stipulate that having carnal knowledge (sex) of a child below the age of 18 is a crime in twenty-four (24) states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.  So would it mean that the age of consent is 18 in those states and the Federal Capital?  Not so.  For this purpose, Akwa Ibom and Kwara states specify 16 years, whilst Jigawa State specifies 15 years.

   Even so there are other complications. The traditional marriage systems stipulate generally the age of 12-14 years for girls.  In some parts of Nigeria, the age is as low as 10 but there are other constraints, which prevent consummation of the marriage even if the girl, her parents and the spouse’s parents have agreed.  Among the Ibos, for example, child marriages from such ages below 10 years age permitted. But the girl remains under the protection of her father in-law until she reaches the normal marriageable age of the community.

    Sometimes, these constraints are not really constraints, especially if the marriage is done under Islamic Law/Sharia.  In such a case, marriage could be conducted by a mallam between a man and a 10 or 11, 12 years old girl, as we have seen recently. I am told that some of these “marriages” are really not marriages because the girl may have poor parents who would gladly give their 11-year old daughter in marriage because they cannot feed the girl anymore.

    We have a former governor, and now a Senator, who is reported to have married a 13-year-old-girl from Nigeria and a 15-year-old girl from Egypt.  Is he a pedophile?  Apparently, not, because, according to his religion, he married and divorced them legally.

   Who is a pedophile? It is stated that Mohammed the Prophet married a nine year-old-girl and gave out his own 10-year-old daughter in marriage.  It is also well known that the Prophet also instructed that young girls should be educated, and that marriage should never be at the expense of education. In both cases, the nine-year-old and 10-year-old, though married were made to have full education, and the marriage was not consummated until his wife was eighteen years, and his daughter was nineteen years!  The question arises:  Have the Nigerian Muslims, who cite these examples, exhibited any such discipline as the Prophet exhibited? The answer, of course, is no having regard to the cases of VVF we witness.

  Let us consider this case: Mayen is 15, and living with her uncle in Kano.  Her uncle was a political officiando.  Alhaji Akali was a powerful figure who was able to dispense favours.  He visits Mayen’s uncle and saw Mayen in his house.

     He was enamoured by her and sought her hand in marriage.  The uncle was only too happy to give Mayen away; and Alhaji married Mayen.  Soon thereafter, there was a riot in Kano, and Mayen escaped and went home to her father in Akwa Ibom.  The father is now not inclined to allow Mayen to leave the house.  He locks her up and refuses all pleading from Alhaji that Mayen is his wife, and he has come to take her back to Kano.  What is the solution?  Should the Attorney-General of Cross River State not prosecute Alhaji for having carnal knowledge of Mayen who was 15 at the time of the marriage?

     A similar situation happened between a Lagos girl, Abike, aged 15, living in Kano, who married under the sharia, but returned to Lagos where her father has refused to accept that she is married.  The simple answer to this is to say that, on the face of it, there was no parental consent.  Therefore, there was no marriage.  But in both cases, a local uncle had stood in for the parents to give consent without which the officiating mallam would not have performed the ceremony.

    Even so, there is a clear case of conflict of laws?  The Child’s Rights Laws of Lagos State and Cross River State stipulate 18 as age of consent.  The Law is clear that when conflicts such as these arise, the domicile of the father will be the domicile of Abike and that of Mayen.

    But here, there is no conflict because the age 18 years for legality of sexual intercourse, marriage and betrothal has been made to override age by these Child Rights Laws.
    The issue here has to do with the legality of the marriage in Kano. They would have been valid if the consent of the parents had actually been obtained. But there is no evidence in  the cited case that the parent’s consents were obtained. Accordingly, the purported marriages would be null and void.

    The problem now is, would the purported husband of Mayen and Abike be continually liable for defiling the girls, respectively?  This raises a very complicated Legal issue, which is not for discussion here.
    However, there are still 12 States of the Federation (11 in the North and 1 in the South) which have still not yet passed the Child Rights Legislation.  In those states, the tenets of Customary Law and Islamic Law still hold sway.

There are Statutory Laws on rape (Criminal Code and Panel Codes) in those states.  Even if we leave all that, how about the absence of a law of statutory rape like in the UK where the Criminal Law specified 16 for the age of consent, where the girl is unmarried; whilst the Penal Code specifies the age of 14 years.  On its own put, the Sharia Penal Code specifies the age of 13 years.

    What the law in Nigeria says now is absurd. Any carnal knowledge before 18 is a crime except where a marriage (traditional or religious) has taken place in which case, no crime is deemed to have been committed.

    Nigeria is not the first place to have conflict of laws of this type.  In the U.S., some States allow 16 years for marriage; others 17, or 18.  Driving licences are issued to 16 year olds in Texas, but nowhere else.  During the miscegenation era, the laws in some States allowed interracial marriages; whilst other States forbade it. So, you may legally be married in Boston, but in Memplus, the black man is sent to jail for attempting to marry a white woman.  What will a policeman in Alabama say to a 16-year-old Texan with a valid driving licence?

Would it not be better to have a statutory rape age – all marriages must then follow that rule?

     This is what the Child Rights Legislations have sought to do.  However, true to the essence of Federalism, the ages specified by the respective States have not been uniform:  whilst the majority specifies 18 years for both marriage and legal eligibility to consent to sexual intercourse; two States have specified 16 years, and one State, 15 years.  This shows that a lot more still needs to been done.

• Ambassador Cole, OFR, is a Consultant to The Guardian Editorial Board.


Culled from The Guardian Newspaper

ON the February 3, 2012, a debate was held at the Angus Memorial Hall, on the campus of Igbobi College, Yaba, Lagos, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the founding of Igbobi College. The occasion afforded Old Igbobians not only a pleasant reunion, but was also evocative of a simpler and more innocent time. The topic – “Is Religion Occupying Too Much Space In Our National Thought Process” – was ably argued by two of the College’s legendary former debaters, Mr. Chris Borha [who thinks it is] and Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN [who argued for the contrary view]. The judges included two distinguished Old Igbobians, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi (a former foreign minister) and the Honourable Duro Adebiyi (a distinguished former judge of the High Court of Lagos State, 1968-76).

Unfortunately, Mr. Borha’s pyrotechnical oratory [which seemed to concentrate on the superstition he claimed religion fosters in Nigeria] failed to deploy the full weight of history, which was undoubtedly largely on his side, and was thus, rightly in my view, overcome in the estimation of the judges by the closely reasoned and impeccably delivered argument of Professor Osinbajo, a gifted and seasoned advocate, who contended that religion, among its other benefits, is the indispensable source of the moral strength of any civilised society.

My personal opinion is that religion is, indeed, occupying far too much space in our national life. This is graphically illustrated in my own neighbourhood of Surulere, in Lagos : While there are at least six churches within a 300 metres radius of my house, I am yet to locate one single library in the whole of Surulere! Yet, even the Lagos State and the Surulere Local Governments are in awe of these churches and are reluctant to intervene to abate the nuisance caused by the resultant appalling congestion and environmental degradation. This imbalance becomes more disturbing when an empirical analysis of history is taken into view.

The Islamic Golden Age (786 C.E.-1258 C.E.), which laid the foundation for the later European Renaissance and Enlightenment, brought great progress in mathematics, physics, biology, medicine, education, architecture, the arts, philosophy, literature, scientific methods, etc., at a time when Europe was still in the grip of the Dark Ages, precisely because free thinking, rationalism, and the spirit of scientific enquiry were allowed as much space as spiritualism at the time. The decline of this grand and illustrious civilization, to which a lot of what we now recognize in modern life owes its existence, largely began when the stifling of ijtihad (independent reasoning) in the 12th century began and was replaced by institutionalised taqleed (imitation) thinking.

Conversely, in Europe, the Church, through subtle means and not so subtle devices, such as the Inquisition, controlled all thought until free thinking, rationalism and scientific enquiry began to assert themselves and became the well-springs of that great flowering of knowledge known as the Renaissance of the 15th and 16th centuries and the Enlightenment of the 18th century, which ensured, to this day, the great ascendancy and domination of the Western Judeo-Christian tradition.

Even in the 21st century, religion continues to take questionable positions on subjects like birth-control, control of HIV-AIDS, the granting of the equal benefit and protection of the law to biologically-challenged homosexuals and lesbians, the ordination of female clergy and gender equality generally, stem cell research, etc, which many feel to be deleterious to progressive thinking.

Nations (such as the Western democracies, Turkey, Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, etc.) that have freed themselves from the debilitating constraints of imperious religion – an inherently conservative phenomenon – and opted for secular societies, thereby subtly circumscribing the influence and control of religion over their peoples, have often been the most successful, while those who have not (such as conservative Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, etc.; the conservative Catholic countries of Latin America and the Philippines; conservative, predominantly Hindu India) have been unable to realise their full potential.

Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), the great Indian nationalist leader and first prime minister of India put it rather well, in his 1933 letter from prison to his then 15-year-old daughter, Indira [Gandhi] : “…And yet, the study of science makes a tremendous difference to a person…in life. The help has been chiefly in the training it has given and the outlook on the mind… Almost all modern life is based on science…Science really means experiment, the finding out of truth by experiment, and not merely accepting facts just because someone has said so.”

Religion too seeks the truth, but in contradistinction, its quest is based, not on experiments, but on faith, hope, and fear. It is increasingly idle to deny, in the light of the mounting scientifically verifiable evidence that has been accumulating for centuries, that nature rests on a rational, and not a mystical, foundation which gives nature and life both their largely predictable and not infrequent pitiless and cruel character. A few examples may illustrate this contention: if human beings insist on building their cities in earthquake prone regions, they will probably be destroyed without the possibility of any divine intervention, even if hundreds of thousands of innocent people are killed in the process; similarly, a person who fails to heed medical advice, and smokes like a chimney and eats and drinks like a hog, risks grave injury to his health for which no divine intervention may be available; a group of evil, but well-organised and resourceful, men may successfully implement a genocide, without any divine intervention, if good men stand aside; a promising nation may be entirely run aground, without the slightest hint of any divine intervention, if otherwise responsible citizens hug their private lives and decide to look the other way.

What is certainly plausible today, therefore, is that the universe may just as well revolve around science and a set of logical/rational natural laws as it may around a Supreme Being. In this scheme of things, religion, if not taken too far, has much social utility; but taken to extremes, it can be a dangerous concept, ultimately subversive of the very same progress that science and the natural laws have the potential of bringing within our reach. It was the need for a balance between religion, on the one hand, and secular humanism in the form of free thinking, rationalism, and science, on the other hand, that informed Einstein’s famous quip that “science without religion is lame, and religion without science is blind” (Albert Einstein, “Science and Religion,” Out of My Later Years,1950).

• Ajose-Adeogun, a lawyer, teaches at the University of Guyana

Friday, 13 March 2015


Culled from The Guardian Newspaper

  • Thursday, 12 March 2015 00:00
  • Written by ENO-ABASI SUNDAY

Severally, development experts have attested to the abundance and quality of Nigeria’s human capital. Unfortunately, the inclement political, economic climates and sundry mundane factors have joined forces to ensure that the ingenuity of great minds resident within the Nigerian shores is not brought to bear, a development partly responsible for the country’s development remaining on the slow lane. That notwithstanding, those bright heads of Nigerian extraction that are domiciled in saner climes are manifesting the true Nigerian spirit and blossoming at great speed. Saheela Ibraheem, Esther Okade and the Imafidons are some of the prodigies that the world is waiting with baited breath to see what they become in the days ahead, writes ENO-ABASI SUNDAY.

THE roll call of the current world’s 50 smartest kids is comprised of kids that would continue to stun the world in the coming years, having already shown a bit of what they have up their sleeves. 
  For instance, Marko Calasan, a 14-year-old Macedonian became a computer systems prodigy, and was acknowledged as the youngest MCSA-certified computer systems administrator at age eight. He became the youngest MCSE-certified computers systems engineer at age nine and currently holds 12 Microsoft certificates and one Cisco certificate, receiving his first certificate at the age of six. 
  After he passed the examinations, Microsoft presented Calasan with DVDs and games. While he considered it a thoughtful gesture, he said he wasn’t “really interested in those things.”
  Calasan, who is deeply in love with mathematics and physics, began reading and writing at age two; and at four he could speak in English. In describing his first memories of using a computer, he said: “I was approximately three years old and I was making simple actions like personalising Windows, then installing Windows, making remote desktop connections with workstations and servers on remote locations, and so on.”
  Calasan said to teach computer basics to children aged eight to 11 in his elementary school is reportedly fluent in three languages and is learning a fourth. The prime minister of Macedonia provided him an information technology  (IT) laboratory to further his technical learning.
  In 2010, he wrote a book for the pre-installation, installation, and post-installation process of Windows 7. The book consists of 305 pages. The Macedonian government bought the rights to the book, published it, and distributes it free to all schools.
  At 16, Colin Carlson from California, United States has earned two bachelor’s degrees, a B.A. in Environmental Studies and B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, both from the University of Connecticut), a master’s degree (an M.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, also from Connecticut), and is working on a Ph.D. (Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of California, Berkeley). He is also interning in the Office of Policy for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  Carlson reportedly taught himself how to read by age two, and at nine, he began taking college credit courses at the University of Connecticut. Upon graduating from Stanford University Online High School aged 11, he enrolled full-time in the university as a sophomore by the time he turned 12.  He is an honour student with a near-perfect 3.9 Grade Point Average (GPA).
  The teen prodigy’s brilliance is reflected in the fact that he won the Truman Scholar, a $30, 000 scholarship toward graduate studies. He also received $7, 500 from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships programme.
  The teenager, who has travelled extensively, wants to focus his career on environmental policy issues worldwide. 
  Thirteen-year-old Ainan Celeste Cawley, from Singapore walked after six months. By eight months, he was running. Cawley, a science prodigy, gave his science lecture, “Acids and Alkalis in Everyday Life,” at a Singaporean school when he was only six-year-old.
  At seven years and one month of age, Cawley passed O-level chemistry examination normally taken during the latter high school years. In 2008, he became the youngest student to study chemistry at Singapore Polytechnic, taking courses and doing laboratory work there. 
  In 2010, the Cawley’s moved to Malaysia for a less-rigid higher education for the young whiz kid, who is now enrolled in Taylor’s University’s American Degree Transfer Programme, which allows for flexible, broad-based learning. He is majoring in the sciences, but studying everything from computer programming and animation to mathematics and theatre.
  Heartwarmingly, Nigeria’s Saheela Ibrahim, is a prominent feature in the honours roll where the world’s 50 smartest kids are showcased. 
  On Thursday, February 26, the 19-year-old Harvard University finalist made history when the US President, Barack Obama and the First Lady, Michelle honoured her with an official reception in the White House.
  Miss Ibraheem was admitted into the Ivy League Harvard at 15, where she is currently studying neurobiology- a branch of science that studies the brain. At the time the Harvard admission came, she was also accepted for admission by 13 other top universities in the United States, including the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Princeton University, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, Brown University, University of Chicago, Williams College, Stanford University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Washington University in St. Louis among others.  In choosing Harvard, she became one of the youngest students to ever attend the university. She is expected to graduate in May. 
  Aside from being brilliant, Ibraheem who is also reputed to be a very humble girl, while giving a peep into her modus operandi, and by extension her world said, “I try my best in everything I do. Anyone who’s motivated can work wonders.”
  According to The Best School website, Saheela believes the key to success is knowing what you love to learn as early as possible, a knowledge she says she came to at age five. “If you are passionate about what you do, and I am passionate about many things, especially mathematics and science, it will work out well.” 
  The teenage Nigerian, who is also interested in Arabic, Spanish and Latin did not just pop up from nowhere to display the unusually high intelligence. She has always been a star student. For instance, while in 6th grade at her Conackamack Middle School in Piscataway, New Jersey, she asked if she could be in a higher-level class, having come to the conclusion that she needed more challenge.
 They school granted her request and placed her a full grade up. Expectedly, she acquitted herself eminently, backed of course by her parents, who have been a guiding light for her and often teaching her subjects the schools neglected to teach.
  At Wardlaw-Hartridge, a reputable private school she left her imprimatur, by immediately skipping the awkward freshman year and heading straight into 10th grade. 
 Ibraheem has a SAT score of 2, 340 SAT (a perfect 800 on the mathematics section, a 790 in writing and a 750 in reading). 
  The teenage Nigerian is not only a bookworm with brawn, she is also sport inclined. She plays outfield for her school’s softball team, defender on the soccer team and she swims relays and 50-meter races on the swim team.
  Speaking on Ibraheem’s feat (of being named one of the world’s 50 smartest kids) after an introductory speech by the teenager at the White House event, which was part of activities celebrating Black History Month, Obama stated that, “There are a lot of teenagers in the world. Saheela is like one of the 50 smartest ones. That’s pretty smart. And she’s a wonderful young lady. She’s like the State Department and the National Institute of Health all rolled into one. And we are so proud of your accomplishments and all that lies ahead of you. And you reflect our history. Young people like you inspire our future.”
 Present at the evening event were members of the US Congress, including Leader, Nancy Pelosi, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
  Commenting on her daughter, Mrs. Shakirat Ibraheem, said she has been way ahead of the academic game since kindergarten, never cutting corners and always trying to do everything on her own. “She’s like always independent,” she said. “I never get to help with her homework because she’d say ‘it’s my work mommy, not yours.’
 Three days before Ibraheem was feted by Obama alongside other eggheads, Esther Okade, was also chalking up an impressive record that would make Nigerians from all walks of lives walk tall and hold their heads high. At 10, Okade is studying mathematics in Open University, a United Kingdom-based distance learning university and already top of her class having recently scored 100 per cent in a recent examination. 
  The array of British newspapers that devoted prominent portions of their papers to celebrate the prodigy, lends credence to the magnitude of the feat. 
  “Ten-year-old prodigy begins college courses for mathematics degree,” was how online medium, blackamericanweb.com announced Okade’s feat. The London Telegraph relayed the message this way, “Mathematics prodigy, 10, enrolls on degree course,” while the Mail Online preferred to render its headline like a question. It went thus: “Is this Britain’s cleverest girl? Ten-year-old is accepted on university course to study mathematics degree despite not going to school.”
  In these reports by the British papers and others, the writers spare no words in educating their readers that Esther Okade looks and acts her age. In other words, she seems like a normal 10-year-old, who among other things, loves dressing up as Elsa from “Frozen,” playing with Barbie dolls and going to the park or shopping. 
  However, what makes the youngster stand out is the fact that she is also a university undergraduate, and one of UK’s youngest college freshmen.
  “It’s so interesting. It has the type of mathematics I love. It’s real mathematics- theories, complex numbers, and all that type of stuff... It was super easy. My mum taught me in a nice way,” America-based CNN quoted Okade as saying about her programme.
  “I want to (finish the course) in two years. Then I’m going to do my PhD in financial mathematics when I’m 13. I want to have my own bank by the time I’m 15 because I like numbers and I like people and banking is a great way to help people.”
 For those living under the illusion that the teenager’s parents have pushed her into starting university early, she emphatically disagrees. 
  “I actually wanted to start when I was seven. But my mum was like, “you’re too young, calm down.” 
  After three years of begging, mother Efe, an engineering graduate, who schools her daughter at home finally agreed to explore the idea.
  Okade, the satellite television station revealed, has always jumped ahead of her peers. For instance, she sat her first Mathematics GSCE examination, a British high school qualification, at Ounsdale School in Wolverhampton at just six, where she received a C-grade. A year later, she outdid herself and got the A-grade she wanted. Then last year she scored a B-grade when she sat the Math A-level examination. 
  Mrs. Okade noticed her daughter’s flair for figures shortly after she began homeschooling her at the age of three. Initially, Esther’s parents had enrolled her in a private school but after a few short weeks, the pair began noticing changes in the usually vibrant youngster. 
  “One day we were coming back home and she burst out in tears and she said ‘I don’t ever want to go back to that school - they don’t even let me talk’ 
  “In the UK, you don’t have to start school until you are five. Education is not compulsory until that age so I thought OK, we’ll be doing little things at home until then. Maybe by the time she’s five she will change her mind,” Mrs Okade submitted.
 The “roller-coater” trip that Miss Okade is enjoying started by her learning basic number skills from her mother. By four, her natural aptitude for mathematics had seen the eager student move on to algebra and quadratic equations. 
  Interestingly, she isn’t the only mathematics prodigy in the family. Her younger brother Isaiah, 6, is on the verge of writing his first A-level examination in June. 
  However, Not content with breaking barriers to attend college at just 10 years old, little Okade is also writing a series of mathematics workbooks for children called “Yummy Yummy Algebra.” 
  “It starts at a beginner level - that’s volume one. But then there will be volume two, and volume three, and then volume four. But I’ve only written the first one. As long as you can add or subtract, you’ll be able to do it. I want to show other children they are special,” she informed.
  Meanwhile, the older Okade’s are also trying to trail blaze their own educational journey in Nigeria. In this direction, they have set up a foundation and are in the process of building a nursery and primary school in the Niger Delta region where they are from. Named “Shakespeare’s Academy,” they hope to open the school’s doors in September. 
  The proposed curriculum will have all the usual subjects such as English, languages, mathematics and the sciences, as well as more unconventional additions including morality and ethics, public speaking, entrepreneurship and etiquette. The couple say they want to emulate the teaching methods that worked for their children rather than focus on one way of learning.
  “Some children learn very well with kinetics where they learn with their hands- when they draw they remember things. Some children have extremely creative imaginations. Instead of trying to make children learn one way, you teach them based on their learning style,” Mrs. Okade submitted. 
  The educational facility will have a capacity of 2, 000 to 2, 500 students with up to 30 per cent of students being local children offered scholarships to attend. 
  “On one hand, billions of dollars worth of crude oil is pumped out from that region on a monthly basis and yet the poverty rate of the indigenous community is astronomical,” the engineering graduate lamented.
  Her husband, Paul Okade added, “The region has poor quality of nursery and primary education. So by the time the children get secondary education they haven’t got a clue. They haven’t developed their core skills. The school is designed to give children an aim so they can study for something, not just for the sake of acquiring certifications. There is an end goal.”
  A few years ago in 2010, it was the Imafidon set of twins- Peter and Paula- that hugged international headlines after their older sisters, Anne-Marie and Samantha, also had their time in the sun, wowing millions across the globe with their intelligence.
 Nicknamed “the Wonder Twins,” Peter and Paula, in 2013 were named Great Britain’s highest achievers. At only nine, they made history as the youngest children in British history to attend high school. In 2013, they were in their third year. 
  It is on record that the twin are the youngest to ever pass the University of Cambridge’s advanced mathematics examination after participating in the Excellence in Education programme. They set world records when they passed the A/AS-level mathematics papers. 
  According to Black America Web, Peter Imafidon, who is also a 100m and 400m relay champion in London, says he would like to serve as Prime Minister one day and his sister Paula, a county champion in rugby, would like to teach mathematics. Both students are musicians.
  The twins joined the ranks of their gifted siblings, Anne-Marie Imafidon, who was the pioneering child among the young geniuses. Now about 25-year-old, Anne-Marie spoke six languages and graduated from high school at age 10. In 2003, when she was only 13, she was granted a British scholarship to study Mathematics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Four years later, she obtained her Masters Degree from Oxford University. She was the youngest person to pass the A-level computing exam. 
  Because of her numerous feats, the September 2011 edition of “Higher Education Digest” called her a “serial world record breaker.” 
  Anne-Marie who believes in mentoring children to help them succeed, is also involved in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme to help fulfill the need for mathematics and science female leaders. 
 At 11, Christina Imafidon, now above 20, was the youngest student in history to attend a British university – the United Kingdom University. At 15, Samantha, another of the Imafidon’s jewel’s passed two high school-level mathematics and statistics examinations at age 6. She became the youngest girl in the UK to attend secondary school at the age of 9. Samantha was the sibling who mentored the twins to pass their own mathematics secondary school test when they were also six-year-old.
- See more at: http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/features/education/201419-nigeria-s-pool-of-eggheads-abroad-swells#sthash.tAgJyqQA.dpuf


  • Written by ENO-ABASI SUNDAY
- See more at: http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/features/education/201419-nigeria-s-pool-of-eggheads-abroad-swells#sthash.tAgJyqQA.dpuf
  • Written by ENO-ABASI SUNDAY
- See more at: http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/features/education/201419-nigeria-s-pool-of-eggheads-abroad-swells#sthash.tAgJyqQA.dpuf