A story was told of a scenario that played out in an office during one of those unfortunate foremost airplane crashes in Nigeria. In this particular case, all souls on board perished, including all cabin crew. The news broke out like a harmattan fire and was welcomed with so much pains, anguish, and tears. It was such a challenging period for the entire nation, most especially the victims’ relatives and col- leagues. While tears were flowing freely, secretly one of the deceased female cabin crews wish was respectably carried out by her colleagues as fast as possible. Before the crash, she has made attempts few days earlier to change the name of her husband which was submitted as her next of kin when she got the job to her love – the son. Earlier when she got the job, she was head above heels in love with her man who wiped her tears from a failed relation- ship that produced her only son. She was deeply in love then and out of excitement she completed her official documentations in her husband’s name as her next of kin. Within years into her air-hostess job, she was no longer comfortable with her husband’s attitude, especially during heated arguments when the man usually claimed ownership of all her assets. This was even as the man was only in love with her and not her son. Her major complaint centered on her man’s poor attitude to her son. As if she knew she was going home soon, she confided in her colleagues that she wanted to swap the name of her husband with that of her son; it was while dilly-dallying that the unfortunate crash happened and the lady suddenly went home.
But her friends in the office moved in the spirit of camaraderie removed the name of her self-centered husband and perfectly re- placed him with her son who was a minor. They did so because that was her last wish before she became a victim of the ill-fated crash and again for her son to inherit her estate being her only fruit.
Whether they were right or wrong in their decision, they felt her last wish must be obeyed for her soul to rest in peace. However, a few men who got wind of their action felt her husband was short-changed; believing that the dead should have been left to bury the dead. Since she was un- able to change the names, the women had no business changing it. But the women claimed it was her wish and maintained what they did for her to rest in peace wherever she is. They, therefore, felt that the men were being inconsiderately selfish towards the issue. So, it didn’t end calmly between the two sets of workers. Today, next of kin has most often become a big issue in most families. Too many couples cannot answer among themselves who their next of kin is without making assertions and sometimes quarrels. In some cases, it is like the biblical camel passing the eye of the needle before a next of kin subject is discussed and agreed upon among working couples.
Careful observation has proved that people differ in decision making especially when it comes to who will inherit their estate when they are no longer liv- ing. But the truth is that spouses remain the best option to take over the estate as any of them is expected to continue to take care of the family. I simply believe that at least 80% of fathers and mothers remain the best parent figure to take care of their children when the unfortunate happens on any of the two if they are indicated as ‘next of kin’.
With growing concern of spouses nowadays easily falling by the way side because of the problem of ‘next of kin’, some couples changed over to their first sons, but not all first sons are worthy to be presented with the ‘next of kin’ certificate. Differently, some prefer their other children either boys or girls, which is done secretly these days. Simple questions like ‘who is your next of kin? is read and understood in different ways. A middle aged woman asked her husband this question and it attracted the attention of the male community elders (Umunna) to investigate the reasons for such a ‘suspicious and threatening’ question. Meanwhile the woman was innocent in her submission because she wanted to toe the part of her husband in ‘next of kin’ documentation.
However, all the hues on the subject is as a result of unfaithfulness, untrustworthiness, untruthfulness, deceitfulness, ravenousness and fraudulence of over the years between men and women. Other factors destroying and enhancing the secret application of next of kin include poor character, fabrications and dishonesty.
Some couples later in the years go for a change or include other names to make sure all their children are included in the ‘successor or inheritance list’. Siblings are not left out in the next of kin battle. Daggers are drawn when property are to be shared among siblings. If things should work out as expected, couples should not trust their children more than their spouses because they knew themselves before the children started coming forth.
The different experiences of men and women as far as next of kin brouhaha lasts might not be right at all times. How can you juxtapose a situation where a husband told his wife of his new remuneration that will run into millions based on his latest promotion in the office? Within months, the man took ill and died. Family members accused the woman of being responsible because they claimed there was no smoke without fire. In like manner, a printer husband who lost his job and his senior banker wife to cancer, when her entitlements were paid; the hubby became an automatic big-boy in town. His transformation and new conduct did not go down well with his late wife’s family, and trust, tongue started to wag. Brothers have used their late sister’s inheritance to raise them- selves because they are presented as the ‘next of kin’ and vice versa.
Therefore neither men nor women are exempted from the sins of ‘next of kin’. Some women have genuinely shown responsibility with the proceeds of ‘next of kin’ likewise the men when their spouses entrust such into their care; while some on both sides had shown total recklessness and frivolity. That is the reason most couples trust their inheritance into the care of their children. A popular wealthy importer in one of the international markets lost his life to a road accident, after his burial rites, his wife became the ‘Father Christmas’ of the market. The height of this importer was measured by his ability to import regularly, stock his shops and lease goods to other dealers excluding his landed property and fiscal cash. His widow threw caution to wind and began to sell herself instead of the goods with younger boys in the market. Any boy that eats the forbidden fruit gets a handsome loan and the news circulated of how benevolent the lady was. In less than two years, she was unable to import goods, stock her husband’s shop and the law of diminishing returns sets in. The wife’s at- titude served as a big lesson to other im- porters.
To tell how bad it has become, a friend got a job and presented her husband as her next of kin; her female colleagues saw it and called her to come and replace her husband’s name with her children’s names. She replied them, “My husband’s name is not written on marble, if I see a different man from who I am living with, I will come back and change his name as well…. Do not worry about it”.
Someone might ask what if either a man or woman is not married and have no child, probably used his parents or sibling as the next of kin and dies what happens? The rule of the game is that someone’s data at work place, purchase of property, or any form of investment no matter how little must have a ‘next of kin’ chosen by the owner.
Good people, note that before you are chosen as a next of kin, you must be trust- worthy and of noble character. No reason- able man or woman entrusted with lifetime inheritance and investment is expected to be wayward with it; but should rather build, invest and pass on the torch.