A professor of Psychology, Bamikole Fagboungbe, has said paternity fraud will continue because it is a human behaviour that cannot be legislated against.
This is against the backdrop of a scandal involving the current Managing Director of the First City Monument Bank, Adam Nuru, and one of the bank’s former employees, Moyo Thomas, who allegedly had two children with Nuru while she was still married to Tunde Thomas.
Fagboungbe, who is the head of Psychology Department of the University of Lagos, Akoka, said people have to be careful and sensitive to the nature of those they have to deal with.
The professor said, "It is a human behaviour, it will continue, no legislation can stop it. It's just like armed robbery, they said if armed robbers were getting killed, they would stop, but have they stopped it? No. Anything that is human behaviour cannot be legislated against. Human beings are human beings and we live in a world of stimulus response connectivity. The moment they receive the stimulus, the stimulus will trigger the 'appropriate' response in that situation. It's not something that can be wiped out, only that people should be careful and sensitive to their environment and people they deal with."
Fagboungbe said the issue of paternity fraud is as common in Nigeria and it is in other places except that those in other climes are advanced and sensitive to issues.
"So, before it escalates into a scandal, people will have noticed it and fought against it. For example, in those places, you cannot go into an environment where you don't belong, many people will have suspected you and alerted the authorities."
He said further, "This is not the first time we would have such a scandal here, though this one is still based on allegations. I witnessed a case long ago, a young lady married a young man, they were both teachers and had three boys. The man kept on taking care of the children, sending them to school but the real father of two of them was someone else, a richer man. It happened in Ekiti.
"They went for paternity tests and it was discovered that the first two boys were for the ‘bigger’ man, so they went to court. Immediately the verdict was given in favour of the bigger man, those two boys were driven to Lagos, put on a plane and taken out of the country. The lady then officially switched attention, allegiance to the father of the other baby callously without batting an eye and the man perhaps, because he was poorer, left everything to God; he did not fight back."
The professor described paternity fraud as a very traumatic experience that brings about frustration for anyone in that situation.
He, however, said the frustration is two-dimensional as it can be directed against oneself or against the society.
"In the case of the man who allegedly got depressed, it was self-directed frustration, he directed it at himself instead of directing it at the society.
"In life, we have goals and these goals are made up of multiple variables. Each goal you have is supposed to take you through the process but whenever anything blocks you from reaching the goal, it leads to frustration and the frustration may be self-directed or society-directed.
"Our grandfathers say only the woman can say who the father of the child is. Thank God we have technology today that can make us determine the true paternity of children but how many people will be prepared to go through the stigmatisation, shame, and helplessness?
"Sometimes we satisfy our needs not minding the effects it will have on others. We just go on with what we want and the way we want it without considering the consequences or its impact on other people that could be victims of the satisfaction we have got."
Fagboungbe said anyone who finds themselves in such a situation will at first be confused.
He however said such a person should take solace in the fact that there is life, and not bow to frustration.
Also, according to him, such a person should seek the services of a psychologist.
He also said such a person should be encouraged by friends to be able to sail through the difficult time.
"He should sharpen his sword of survival and not give up. He should not lose hope and if he has friends around him, they should encourage him to face the world from a different perspective. It's not something that will go away in a day or in a month, it will keep coming back to haunt him but he should believe that what is done is done. Obafemi Awolowo used to say that what makes a man is his ability to get up each time he falls down and that is it. Such a person should not surrender to frustration or negative impact, he should gradually lift himself.
"If he has access to a psychologist, they should take him through phases of counselling until he is gradually able to handle the situation but unfortunately in our country, we don't value the functionality of a psychologist. Actually, the first thing such a man should do scientifically is to see a counselling psychologist."