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Nigerians Pause the Nightmares to Honor Romance, at least for a Day

Women protesting in Port Harcourt first week of February 2024. Courtesy of Channels TV.
Women protesting in Port Harcourt first week of February 2024. Courtesy of Channels TV.

But plenty are still hungry, and women in Port Harcourt are starved for sex.

By Omolola Rosaline Pedro

[Lagos] For many, February 14 is THE day to show affection to loved ones and to those in the category of “my dream someday.”

White- and crimson outfits drape the mannequins in store fronts,  buttressed by gift hampers, flowers, greeting cards, and promotional fragrances. You can smell love in the dusty air in Lagos, despite the dream-deferring reality on the street.

A 2022 survey by Ricodi shows that an average Nigerian lady expects to be gifted candles, flowers, perfumes, teddy bears and jewelry by their loved ones, whereas they guys prefer wristwatches, action movies, and a “clean well-lighted place” for dinner.

 But food prices have soared for a year, forcing many an optimistic couple to make pragmatic sacrifices this year.  Nigeria’s inflation has been on the rise for 11 consecutive months, reaching a new high in December 2023, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), this development would perhaps hinder Nigerians from celebrating Valentine’s Day, as they would have wanted, amid the rising prices of foodstuff and commodities, exponential increase in cost of living with no standards.

Nigerians and their ‘toxic’ relationship with Nigeria

Nigerians’ readiness for Valentine’s Day celebration is the opposite of the state of the country. With rising insecurity and an economic crisis, Nigerians are in high hopes for what St. Valentine’s Day holds.

But hell hath no fury worse than frustrated wives in Rivers State who can’t get romance without power for the air conditioners in sweltering Port Harcourt apartment buildings. They have gone to the streets to demand that the Rivers State power company turn on more current so that husbands will not sleep on the street rather than the dry-sauna conditions of the marital bedroom. video courtesy of PM News Nigeria.

Kidnappers Never Take a Day Off

Kidnappers are still running riot across the country, making courtship on Valentine’s a concern. In 2023, while other Nigerians were enjoying the Valentine’s Day celebration, fifteen serving corps members were kidnapped at Anambra state, Southeast Nigeria, on their way from their mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) following the completion of their three weeks Orientation program in Imo state.

Will this year’s Valentine’s Day be an exception for kidnappers, especially when it’s just a day to the 2024 Batch A Corp Members Orientation, when most of the Prospective Corp Members would engage in interstate travels to their Orientation camps?

The Cultural Divide over Valentine’s Day

Nigerian Muslims tend to denigrate Valentine’s Day as haram (sinful), and therefore, abominable.

“Based on the above, congratulating the non-Muslims on their religious festivals is haram because it implies that one accepts or approves of their rituals of kufr, even if one would not accept those things for oneself,” according to one commenter on X.

 Meanwhile, Nigerian Christians often use the Valentine period to continue to advocate for peaceful coexistence and togetherness among Nigerians.

During the Valentine’s Day period, churches in Nigeria organize a series of programs to celebrate Valentine’s.

“Singles summit”, “Couples Bootcamp”, “Love Feasts”, Nigerian churches find a way to bring people together, regardless of age, gender, tribe or social status to further promote the need for love to exist among couples, friends, families, communities, and even Nigeria as a whole.

 Nigerian Ex-pat churches in the Washington, D.C. area ride this wave as well, including Faith Clinic Church International in Hyattsville, Maryland.

While this year’s Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday, the first Day of Lent, Nigerian churches  have fixed the events for days for celebration preceding February 14.

Kaduna based Cleric, Yohana Buru has a distinguished manner of celebrating Valentine’s Day. Since 2017, the cleric has campaigned for peaceful coexistence and religious tolerance in Kaduna state and Nigeria, using Valentine’s Day.

According to him, the best way to celebrate Valentines Day is to spend the whole day with less privileged in the society, which include handicapped kids, children with deformities, the deaf, the blind, those with leprosy, widows, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and inmates.

Big Mama Government Gets into the Valentine’s Day Act

In 2023, the Nigerian government through the National Orientation Agency (NOA) used the Valentine’s Day celebration to mobilize patriotism for the country.

According to the NOA, Nigerians should demonstrate their love for their country and for one another, which will aid in national rebirth and peace.

The Director-General of NOA, Dr. Garba Abari,  claimed that Nigeria and its people had noticed a troubling tendency in social and political discourse that occasionally questioned long-standing friendship, neighborly love, and a sense of oneness.

The Osun state government in 2023 lined up fun activities like indoor games, dress and dance competitions to mark this year’s Valentine’s Day celebrations for its workers, even though the people continue to decry the ugly condition of the state.

Nollywood goes up-tempo with reconciliation films

While the filmmaking industry of the country; Nollywood produces movies all year round, there is always an extra effort to produce a love themed movie specially for Valentine’s Day.

It’s the season of love, and there’s no better way to spend the evening with a loved one than with a romantic dinner and then returning home to relax with scented candles, expensive wine, and Netflix, Nollywood thinks.

Movies produced for this special purpose carry special messages.

Promotion of intertribal marriage, peaceful coexistence, religious tolerance, Nollywood explores these themes to address the many issues that Nigerians and Nigeria face.

 Released in 2021 on the eve of Valentine’s weekend, everything about the movie; Fine Wine screamed romance from the point of view of Nigerian Baby Boomer men. Directed by Nigerian American filmmaker Seyi Babatope and written by Temitope Akinbode and Diche Enunwa the movie stars the Nollywood legend Richard Mofe-Damijo who put on a stunning performance of an elderly rich man who tries to win the heart of a much younger lady played by Ego Nwosu.

Omolola Roseline Pedro writes on lifestyle and economics from Lagos for TruthNigeria.

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