(Photo: Participants at a quarterly review meeting on safe motherhood with focus on child spacing facilitated by Devcoms in Kaduna on Thursday)
As campaign on safe motherhood continues across sub-Saharan Africa where more women die around childbirth, religion leaders in northern Nigeria are calling on Nigerians to embrace child spacing also known as family planning to save more reproductive age women.
They were also of the view that, health of mothers is sacrosanct to the national development in all its facets and therefore needs collective action from all and sundry.
Speaking from Biblical perspective on child spacing during a roundtable discussion with media facilitated by Development Communications (Devcoms) Networl in Kaduna on Thursday, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, Chikun Local Government, Kaduna State, Northwest Nigeria, Reverend Ayuba Kasuwa told participants that, there was no spiritual reward for a large family without care by those responsible.
According to this cleric, “it is important to plan our family as God Himself did. For example, in Genesis Chapter 1,God plans His creation. That means we need to plan everything we want to do emulating the master planner.
“Again, the book of II Timothy 5:8 says anyone that cannot provide for his family is worst than infidel. Nobody is saying you should not have as many children as you want but you must be able to space them so the mother can be alive and healthy to take care of them.
“What I’m trying to say is that, what is the gain if you have a large family that cannot live a good life, no good food, no education and all that. Our belief is that, if families are healthy, church will be healthy. If they are not healthy, how can we concentrate on worshiping our Creator.
“We have gone to hospitals severally to settle bill incurred around pregnancy complications due to poor health of the women. Child spacing is Biblical. Luke 22:6 also talk about counting your cost before building. So, anything you want to do, plan it. If you have a family you cannot cater for, it may hinder you from entering the kingdom of God”, he added.
Citing his own family experience as case study he said, “I have just three children. My first daughter is 15, the second one is nine and the third one is five and we are okay with that at least for now.”
Also speaking, Imam of Angwan Rimi Central Mosque, Kaduna North Local Government, Imam Musa Tanimu said, Islam gave a minimum of 30 months interval between pregnancies so the mother can have enough rest before the next one, hence the child spacing was not a new idea that should generate unnecessary arguments.
“When we talk about child spacing, we have to look at a lot of things. What’s the purpose of our existence here on earth. God said he did not create human and genes (angels) except to worship him. Haddit of the Prophet also said we should marry and get many children so he can be proud of us.
“But which kind of children the Prophet was talking about, is it criminals that he would be proud of. Once you abandon them, they become criminals and don’t remember to pray for themselves or for their late parents.
“The portion of having many children is what many people misunderstood forgetting that, the Prophet only talk about good children.
“When you tell couple to discuss the number of children they can cater for, it is already child spacing. But when you said they should tame it then there may be problem of acceptance of your message.
“Is it accepted? Yes, but under one condition. Don’t look at it from economic perspective but look at their health and the health of the mother too because she will be the one to take care of the children you are bringing up.
“But today, while planning your family, you need to think of economy too because even the education now is money. So, those that stick to old education, their children are suffering.
“You have to plan base on the health of the mother. At what interval will she be able to undergo child bearing process once again. Then ask her if she can, then if she said yes she’s capable you can decide and if she said no you decide too.
“But in all these, you need to manage the children well. You will be responsible for any sin they commit. You should take care of their education, character and all that so they will not become criminals and add up to Devil’s kingdom. Children are blessing from Allah but that can only be claim when they are doing well.
“Leaving your children to be begging is against Islamic teaching. Is better to leave something behind for your children than to leave them to become beggars. Therefore, new innovation will come to people base on what they have created for themselves. You have to use your intellect to see how you can develop. We need wisdom always. We need to increase in knowledge.
“But how do we communicate this to the people. It is difficult for Islamic scholars to communicate this to the people. Many names will be given to you. But now, I can talk about it in Jumat publicly. Go to PHC Angwan Rimi and see how people are going for the child spacing commodities.
“When a teacher is sick, he cannot train his students and the mothers are the teachers in this regard. I also communicate with them using the analogy of balloon. They now know it can burst if you continue blowing it without rest. Our women have to rest after nine month. Pregnancy and breastfeeding should be 30 months as a minimum before the next one”, he concluded.
Earlier, Coordinator, Africa Media Development Foundation, Sekyen Dadik, who spoke on behalf of Devcoms described maternal and child mortality rate in Nigeria as alarming and unacceptable.
She queried, “what is the value of Nigerian life? What is the sanctity of Nigerian life? What is value of Nigerian women? If there is value for Nigerian life, there is no point for any woman dying let alone of many of them dying while giving live.
“As we consider the way forward, we need to place value on every life where women go through the upbringing process with joy and all of us if we faint not will be better for it.”