Friday the 4th, an evening that our minds should give thoughts. It used to be voiced on the street, and abroad, that what reigns supreme is racial discrimination – that is, the white against the black, and the blacks against the albino. Of little recognition is weight discrimination, and it would interest readers to know that the subsequent lines are not mere fables or moonlight tales, but what transpired in the University of Benin (the main gate wheels location).

Hours familiar with Hesperus saw a woman being deprived access into a cab simply because she had pounds way above a slim and petite lady. The first cab driver on the queue, for some reasons only pointing to her size, left her for another passenger, but she chose not to allow affliction occur the second time when the next-in-line cab driver came up with a puerile excuse I NO GET FUEL. There was the birth of rail words and aggression here and there as well as a large crowd; as expected, we had people taking sides. The question remains, “should a cab without fuel be on the queue?” even, “can a woman, far from obesity but not void of fats, dry up oil tanks when transported?” A NO is just convenient for both questions. A cab that has an empty tank belongs to the fuel station – this is common knowledge. A woman that is fat but far from obese do not, will not, and cannot have their waistline serving as a reason for reduction in a vehicle’s fuel efficiency. The reason for this landing is traced to the 2010 Consumer Report that overweight can lead to high spending of gas; Allstate cited data from the US Department of Energy which found that for every additional 100 pounds placed in a car, the vehicle’s fuel efficiency is decreased by up to 2 percent – that we follow in one accord, these reports are targeted at obese humans, the fat woman in question was way out of the league or scope of the reporter; she was not close to BIG MAMA. If these two questions are answered in the negative, the grey truth ripens into one sin, DISCRIMINATION.

The act of the cab driver does not offend only the realm of sociality, and legality, but even the ultimate book worshipped by Christians. The book of Genesis 1:27 has this to say: “So God created man in His own image, in image of God created he him; male and female created he them”. What must be considered unequivocal is the fact that God created the fat, the thin, the short, the tall, to mention a few, in His image and likeness – who are we to discriminate? To quickly avoid raised brows, it will interest the unversed in law to know that the law is not in taciturnity or dumbness as far as this discriminatory slant is concerned. Countless laws from the foreign coast have anti-weight discrimination laws against the fat people though limited to employment opportunities. Of interest is the definition of unlawful discrimination by a local ordinance (Santa Cruz, CA, JULY 1992) which had in its scribble, “differential treatment as a result of that person’s race, colour, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, family responsibilities, physical handicap, matriculation, or political affiliation” – of particular interest is ‘personal appearance’. The matter of weight discrimination is yet to be taken seriously in Nigeria, as it is seen as no big deal, and this probably why opinion polls on that very evening had dissenting positions on that event. But then, what did the framers of the constitution of Nigeria expect that the bulwark of the grundnorm see? Also, what did these legal drafters expect the concierge of sound reasoning to digest with ease? A cursory look at s.42 (1) (a) CFRN1999 has that:

“A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person – 

be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject…”

One might hastily conclude that the law was terse in its seeming unequivocal pronouncement of ANY LAW IN FORCE and EXECUTIVE OR ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION OF GOVERNMENT, but a joint reading of Nzeako JCA’s judgment in ANZAKU V. GOVERNOR, NASARAWA STATE [2006] ALL FWLR (PT. 303) 308 evinces the meaning, characteristic, and application of S.42 in his seventh ratio. He had discrimination to include not only slaps from the government, but spanks from a person – as is the case in question. This wise justice went on to say that different treatments of persons do occur, but the law will insist that such be not capricious or unreasonable. You cannot tell a woman who obviously was with the requisite cab fare to stay behind just because of her size. If he did not have fuel, he ought to have stayed at home or elsewhere – at least not the queue where those with fuel whose norm is to carry passengers on a first-come-first-load substratum, parks. 

Indeed the societal perspective must differ as that will hinge on the relative concept called MORALITY. It is on this note I leave every reader with a food for thought: would you feel extremely cool if you had your body enriched with fats and whilst trying to secure a cab to get you to an event, he tells you he has no fuel? Truth is, there are no clear-cut Acts on weight discrimination in Nigeria, and so there is no pin point to any fixed sanction or punishment for discriminators. Well, since there is the progeny of the HIV discrimination law as signed by Fr. President Goodluck Jonathan, it is only hoped that the arms of the law stretches to the sphere of weight discrimination. Who are we to judge really? (Matt. 7:1).

                                                                                            OKOCHA OBED.

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