Nigeria’s Gay Problems

Let’s turn to the biggest global news of the week thus far: Nigeria declaring its disdain for any form or likeness of homosexuality.

Goodluck Jonathan posing for Vogue Italia.

What a week it has been; and it’s still only Wednesday. Egypt and Thailand are threatening to burn over democracy, Australian Opens is threatening to burn over heat strokes, John Kerry has been insulted more than once by other foreign leaders, African asylum seekers in Israel keeps protesting their treatment by the Israeli government. But let’s turn to the biggest global news of the week thus far: Nigeria declaring its disdain for any form or likeness of homosexuality.

All peace-loving and weary Africans were barely coming out of mourning for Madiba, Nelson Mandela (yes, we do need a month for mourning) when we were jolted back to surreality with the news that Nigeria had enacted one of the farthest hate mongering laws against any Nigerian who is not inclined towards opposite sex monogamy, polygamy (as long as it is between one man and several women only), and pedophilia (national senators in Nigeria actually think this is a sport).

Under the new Nigerian law, it is illegal to engage in an intimate relationship with a member of the same sex and to attend, or organize, or operate a meeting of gays and gay organizations, including private clubs. How in heaven’s name will some of the same politicians who passed this bill survive it? That was a joke by the way!

The purported law was enacted on 7 January 2014 but somehow all the journalists and governance watchdogs in the country missed this news until a week later. Apart from showing what a sorry state of affairs governance is in the country, this action by President Jonathan Goodluck, or Badluck for the innocents he keeps punishing, is in line with his new year surprise gimmicks – anyone remember the fuel subsidy removal debacle a couple of years ago? Do not hold your breath for national protests against this law.

Of course this new law, apart from showing that too many Nigerians spend way too much time on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter engaging in battles of words and egos, is encouraging the use of “big grammar” by Abuja big men. Here is a quote from Mr. “PhD” Reuben Abati, spokesperson for the president and former activist/journalist in another lifetime:

This is a law that is in line with the people’s cultural and religious inclination. So it is a law that is a reflection of the beliefs and orientation of Nigerian people … Nigerians are pleased with it.

Who am I to question the authority of a whole Ph.D. that is the mouthpiece of the country? What is not being announced though is that there are several other legislative bills in line with the people’s cultural and religious inclination that are awaiting the president’s signature. Sources in the presidency indicate that following the success of this “Gut the Gays” law, we should be expecting some of these laws to come through in coming weeks.

Following is a sneak preview of some of the bills awaiting GEJ’s signature:

1. A law criminalizing the current Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi, and anybody found sympathizing with him in words or thoughts. The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) has decided that Mr. Sanusi’s latest actions including blowing the whistle on the unexplained disappearance of over $10 billion from the federal coffer goes against the people’s cultural inclination towards corruption and non-transparency.

2. A law banning any female who is neither related in any form nor having some sexual affair with government officials from running for any political office, being appointed to a federal position or awarded any government contract as this goes against the people’s cultural inclination towards nepotism and non-recognition of women for their skills and talents.

3. A law criminalizing any form of open or public letters to the president by ex-presidents and their sycophants. Once this law is passed, only sycophants of the president can issue open letters to the president. Ex-presidents and prominent statespeople speaking openly against the president goes against the people’s cultural and religious non-accountability inclination.

4. A law criminalizing any form of actual performance by state governors especially when they give the impression of performing better than the federal government. Such action is unbecoming of elected officials and goes against the people’s cultural and religious inclination toward non-deliverance of public goods and governance.

5. And finally, a law legalizing the forced or purchased wedding of the rich and powerful to underage girls in and outside the country. Such unions, unlike the morally repulsive homosexual ones, will be recognized in the country even if not sanctioned in country of origin. This behavior apparently will be a reflection of the beliefs and orientation of Nigerian people and the Nigerian people will be happy with it.

Further Reading

The entitlement of Bola Tinubu

The Nigerian presidential candidate’s claim of ’emi lokan’ (it’s my turn) reveals complex ethnic politics and a stagnated democracy. Most responses to it, humor and rumor, reflect how Nigerians enact democratic citizenship.

Father of the nation

The funeral of popular Angolan musician Nagrelha underscored his capacity to mobilize people and it reminds us that popular culture offers a kind of Rorschach test for the body politic.

A city divided

Ethnic enclaves are not unusual in many cities and towns across Sudan, but in Port Sudan, this polarized structure instigated and facilitated communal violence.

The imperial forest

Gregg Mitman’s ‘Empire of Rubber’ is less a historical reading of Liberia than a history of America and racial capitalism through the lens of a US corporate giant.

Africa’s next great war

The international community’s limited attention span is laser-focused on jihadism in the Sahel and the imploding Horn of Africa. But interstate war is potentially brewing in the eastern DRC.

The Cape Colony

The campaign to separate South Africa’s Western Cape from the rest of the country is not only a symptom of white privilege, but also of the myth that the province is better run.

Between East Africa and the Gulf

Political encounters between the Arab Gulf and Africa span centuries. Mahmud Traouri’s novel ‘Maymuna’ demonstrates the significant role of a woman’s journey from East Africa to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


It’s not common knowledge that there is Iran in Africa and there is Africa in Iran. But there are commonplace signs of this connection.

It could happen to us

Climate negotiations have repeatedly floundered on the unwillingness of rich countries, but let’s hope their own increasing vulnerability instills greater solidarity.