Chukwuka Utazi, the senator representing Enugu north in the Red Chambers, got into a brief banter with Senate President Ahmad Lawan after he said Africans do not marry for love, but simply to have children.
Utazi made the comment on Tuesday, May 12, while contributing to a debate on a bill seeking to prevent, control and manage sickle cell anaemia in the country.
Utazi, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator further stated that it is painful to realise that some people cannot marry their main choice because of blood group.
“This bill is taking me down the memory lane because I’m an AS carrier and when I was about getting married, several years ago, I moved into this orbit and I know what I went through because I was in love. I knew the trauma. After that incident, for five years I didn’t come out of it,” he said.
“So I am speaking from experience and I know how it pains that you have made a choice and you discover that the choice can’t work. Because in Africa, we marry for children, we don’t marry for love.”
The Senate President Ahmad Lawan interrupted him at this point, saying: “Senator Chukwuka Utazi, I think you should be speaking for yourself.”
Utazi continued saying: “In the developed world, particulars of a child’s blood group is given at birth. ”A test is done to show the blood group, the genotype before leaving. In the birth certificate of the child, all those things are put in place.
”We should not be waiting for when people want to go and marry, that is when they will start checking their genotype and their blood group, it shouldn’t be.”
Also speaking on the matter, Biodun Olujimi, senator representing Ekiti south, asked Nigerians to look at ways of addressing health needs.
“The time has come for us to look inwards to solve some of these health needs and also support institutions that are doing so. Going forward we need to take serious blood testing for intending couples,” Olujimi said.
“We will not allow love take away the best part of our marriages.” He added.
The bill which is being sponsored by Sam Egwu, senator representing Ebonyi north, passed second reading after it was put to a voice vote by Lawan.
The bill also empowers the Ministry of Health to direct, coordinate and supervise the prevention, control and management of the disease.
Sam Egwu said;
“It will ensure that these campaigns, sensitisation and services are taken to the rural areas across the nation where majority of the citizens are ignorant of this disease and do not carry out the relevant tests to ascertain their genotype before getting married.
“Proper sensitisation of the rural dwellers and accessibility of the blood testing services, which this Bill seeks to enhance, will lead to an appreciable reduction in the number of fresh cases in a short time.
“It will attract no significant additional cost to the government because it is not setting up any new body or commission; its implementation is to be carried out by the Federal Ministry of Health.
“It will, however, lead to achievement of better results through better utilisation of resources, stronger political will, greater mutual accountability and more research in the area of Sickle Cell Disease and these efforts will culminate in reduced morbidity and mortality caused by the disease.
“By passing the bill, the Senate would have played its part in bringing to an end the unfortunate and preventable hardships and deaths which hundreds of thousands of innocent young Nigerians are subjected to on yearly basis”.
It is expected that the committee will report back to the senate in 4 weeks.