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Nigeria’s Kano state has thousands of single women who are either divorced or widowed and they are looking for mates.  Many single women with families in the state are typically unable to make ends meet when they are left on their own.  Women of marriageable age who remain single are oftentimes seen as suspect — with their respectability questioned — so the government has decided to step in to fix the lonely hearts problem, reports the Digital Journal.

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In order to take part in the program, there are mandatory free-HIV screenings for the applicants. One must also answer interview questions that seek information, such as occupation, income, and number of children. The men are asked why they want to marry, among several other questions that aim to determine their ability to fulfill their responsibilities. The selected applicants are then subjected to a meet-and-greet so that they can then decide on a spouse. Afterward, the couples are married in a group wedding.

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With the matchmaking service, reportedly the men are just as anxious as the women. Since arranged marriages are still commonplace in this part of Nigeria, the matchmaking program is welcomed by mate seekers.

Thus far, 1,000 women have tried to meet mates and some 2,000 men have applied for the program, which covers wedding expenses and provides a way around negotiating with future in-laws.

The first 100 women are to be wed in coming weeks.

Kano is a Muslim city in northern Nigeria.  The matchmaking program, which is spearheaded by the Islamic Sharia police, aims to match widows and divorcees with eligible men and has a two-fold agenda: First, the idea was conjured up to help curb unrest in northern Nigeria. Due to issues, such as unemployment, frustration among the nation’s youth have fueled violent eruptions. This region has also recently been under attack from Boko Haram, a Sunni Muslim militant group.

With Boko Haram meaning “no to western education,” this group is threatened by the West and mostly Christian population in southern Nigeria. Boko Haram members call for the establishment of Islamic Sharia law in Nigeria to change the approximately half-Christian and half-Muslim religious structure. The group, which is not that far off from the Taliban, has targeted police, the government, Christians, and non-extremist Muslims. Many believe that Boko Haram has ties to al-Qaeda.

By providing a home for the children of these single parents that is stable, financially secure, and loving, program organizers hope to reduce some of these social problems.  The program’s officials believe that children without proper parental guidance and structure are easy targets for political extremists and are likely to be easily influenced and led down a wrong path.

Nabahani Usman, deputy head of the Hisbah, the Sharia police, told the Digital Journal,  “It is very important they are saved from these destructive elements through this program, where they can have stable family life with their mothers and step-fathers looking after them.”

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