Nigeria remains perhaps the only Country where a marriage is regarded as incomplete without the observation of cultural, Statutory and religious stipulations.
A manifestation of cultural and political dominance by Western incursion. With the bride price still seen as the ultimate mark of marrital rites and still a church wedding symbolises the union before God, giving it spiritual legality and yet again, Statutory marriage grants the couple legal recognition universally, prospective couples in Nigeria are faced with an ever increasing dilemma.
Standing at the threshold if cultural change and in the face of an ever decreasing economic wherewithal, there has never been a more tedious preparation for marriage than a Nigerian one.
With young couples opting for a single act of marriage instead of the usual customary act of marrying a woman twice or three times over, they face a formidable opposition in orthodox churches and traditional recognition.
Churches could withhold burial rites or other small privileges over couples who did not marry in a church and traditional institutions deny recognition to couples who are not married by traditional customs.
Perhaps times are beginning to change for the better as The Anglican Bishop of Aguata Diocese, Anambra State, Rt Reverend Samuel Ezeofor has abolished the wedding of couples in the diocese without first performing their traditional marriage rites. By this act, the Bishop has placed traditional marriage in a higher hierarchy over religious ones.
For it has been a subject of agonising debate over what mode of marriage supersedes the other in recognition.
Recently a town in Eastern Nigeria was caught up in a cultural sock when an elderly pastor in Fishers Of Men Charismatic Church, Isiokpo wedded a teenage girl without parental knowledge. Others were of the opinion that a church marriage supercedes any other form of marriage and a pastor could override parental consent.
With Bishop Ezeofor of the Anglican Church announcing this at the Cathedral Church of Saint John Ekwulobia in Aguata Local Government Area during a thanksgiving service to mark the end of the first session of the fifth Synod of Aguata Diocese, urging would-be couples to first observe the traditional marriage rites before wedding in the Church, a premise has been set for the gradual eradication of couples marrying three times in a single union .