About two years ago, we published an article titled, ‘The Hustle At Ikoyi Marriage Registry’ and it was about the marriage arrangements and the shenanigans put up by the Ministry of Interior for young people to acquire marital status.
Ordinarily, registry marriages can be done and licenses procured at local government offices. At least that is how it used to be. But the Ikoyi Marriage registry has acquired a reputation of its own to the extent that it is said that marriage certificates from there can open local and international doors so everyone travels long distances to go to Ikoyi. At ungodly hours in the morning when normal people are sleeping, you will find candidates for marriages queuing for numbers so that they can be called up early for ceremonies that will not even start until 10am!
I was last there in September 2021 to witness to a nephew’s ceremony and I complained to high heavens because of the stress I could see people going through. I am sure many of sure were wondering what this man is shouting about because you are all used to it. The nearest I have gone close to that venue is usually while driving on the main Alfred Rewane Road and I can always see gatherings of couples, family members and friends hanging around to take their turn.
The officials have put up canopies outside the main building in the ministry compound. But you have to rent your chair from rental organisations based inside the compound. At 100 Naira per chair. Everything is paid for. To park your car along the road, it is N1000 for street urchins who show you they have receipts to back up your payment. I don’t know of any other place in Lagos where it takes one thousand Naira to park your car. And it is not even a formal car park. The area boys harass you from the moment they see you driving on Alfred Rewane Road, asking if you want to park and offering the little pieces of paper as receipt. Then you walk into the compound that is supposed to house the Ministry of Interior.
The United Nations Information Centre used to be on that side street. They have moved from there now. To Abuja I believe. I wondered how they coped with the crowd and the environment to get to their office before they left. The new Dangote Group building under construction is opposite the registry. I don’t know how they will cope when they move into the edifice.
Then, inside the registry compound are all manner of business enterprises associated or not associated with a wedding. Photographers. Head gear/Gele tying specialists. Flower shops. Rent-a-wedding dress and tuxedo. Snacks and food sellers. Sale of wedding rings and other jewelry. Make-up artists. Fashion houses. Rent-a-cake for photo opportunities. Even drummers and dance troupes can be rented there to entertain the newly wed – no, that’s not correct -may be ‘newly registered’ is more like it. Because this is not the wedding!
Mind you, visits by prospective brides and grooms to the registry in the past were just to collect the marriage licenses; but the officials now make it look like it is the real wedding ceremony. The young couples are told they have to wear suit and white wedding dress. Their witnesses which we were last Friday have to be also formally dressed. They had almost 150 couples. We were ninety-something! And they go through the motion of wedding the couples – prayers, singing, even dancing and collecting offering from the couples and their guests for each ceremony. Meanwhile there is still the main wedding ceremony in church or mosque to go through after, with the reception. Even before the main wedding will be traditional marriage ceremonies and introduction at different levels. And then this racket is added to it. This is just too much. Someone said no wonder many young people don’t want to get married anymore, if they have to go through all this.
When you go to that venue, woe betide you if you feel like using the toilet. Also, pray it doesn’t rain. You are on your own. And we were there for almost five hours!
Meanwhile in the midst of all this the officials do like they are doing you a favour. I wonder if the money being made in this madness gets to the Federal government.
What about the state and local governments from whom this marriage licence business has been taken? A
nd the churches and mosques where these young ones may no longer need to go when they have already been through the praying and dancing?