By Lawrence Ezedinma
There has been an overcast within Nigeria’s blogosphere around paternity testing (PT) in the last few months. Such discourse is not new and remains topical within Africa’s capital of paternity fraud, where 3 in 10 Nigerian men are alleged not to be the biological father of their child. This stats induces a perpetual distrust, especially amongst the male folks. Consequently, there has been an increasingly greater pressure for paternity testing either within or from married couples, singles, religious and civil groups. Given that women are on the spotlight during PT, it is essential to identify current thought on the subject matter.
An online survey with the question: ‘are you open to having a paternity test’ received an outright “NO” from a few respondents. Others had stressed that despite it being a betrayal of trust and a wrong impression of the marriage, it became necessary for assurance and peace of mind. Additionally, having a PT immediately after a child’s birth provides an opportunity to identify and address any discrepancies. Religious and civil requirements were the criteria for some responders to consent for a PT. Although some were indifferent citing it has been alien to culture, unnecessary and expensive.
The diversity responses reflect or correspond to the diverse experience and background of the survey participants. Despite the distrust paternity test suggests, respondents who are opened to it, acknowledge and accommodate the fear or suspicion within men in Africa’s paternity fraud capital. One such form of paternity fraud that most men dread is the unintentional types — where a lady involved with multiple partners may not know who a child’s father is. The 2015 movie “road to yesterday” is an excellent depiction of this fraud and this may be on the rise given the current fad around unexpected marriage proposal.
Respondents who are indifferent or reject assenting to a PT can miss out on the potential benefits or possibilities the test may hold or reveal. In Nigeria’s clime, social vice such as swapping babies in maternity wards of hospitals remains prevalent in the 2000s. Most ladies being exhausted or excited after delivery may not be aware of this fraud which is ascribed to their infidelity in the future. PT may not only vindicate a woman’s faithfulness but unveil some medical phenomena within Nigeria’s vast diversity. Medical marvels such as parthenogenesis or chimerism are not as rare as once thought.
Parthenogenesis or virgin birth may be occurring in Nigeria as an evolution act induced by rising maternal age. On the other hand, the high incidence of twinning in Nigeria increases the possibility of a child’s paternity to be that of his/her father’s twin — chimerism. These medical hypotheses can be identified only after a PT, and such findings may help explain the high “paternity fraud” in Nigeria. Whether by fraud or medical rarity, PT is a valuable tool required to improve Nigeria’s socio-medical outlook. For instance, without PT incest between half-siblings may become a social norm in Nigeria, with offspring having medical issues.
Undertaking a paternity test can also solve the mystery around “supposedly” unrelated people with striking resemblance — the common expression my brother or sister from another mother may be factual within Africa’s capital of paternity fraud. By requiring paternity results before issuing a birth certificate, the Nigeria government and religious institutions can also cub the commodification of baby factories. Although this approach may be controversial or impracticable, this will become feasible as the cost and technology around PT improve in the future. Despite the glooming statistics on paternity fraud in Nigeria and the opinions of some online commentators, most survey respondents insist all PT requires the mother’s consent.
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