Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, has said that the Almajiris will become an army that may overwhelm Nigerians in future if the government isn’t fast in thinking of how they can be catered for and properly developed.
Mr Mustapha’s statement was in reaction to the decision of some northern governors to ban the almajiri system as part of measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Almajiris are children in the Northern parts of the country who leave their homes in search of Islamic knowledge elsewhere.
However, the Almajiri system has over the years been tainted, with thousands of such children roaming the streets as beggars and without any form of education. Mr Mustapha’s statement was in reaction to the decision of some northern governors to ban the almajiri system as part of measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. At the daily briefing of the Presidential taskforce team in Abuja on Monday April 27, a reporter had asked if it was constitutional for state governors to move children against their wish, out of their states to the children’s states of origin due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Mustapha who is the chairman of the presidential task force on COVID-19, said the governors’ decision was in the best interest of the kids. He added that it is time Nigeria looks deeply into the proper development of these set of children.“Most of them are minors. As a matter of fact, by the time they get to their teens they mature and become the Malams. And I think every government has a responsibility given to it by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I think section 14:1, to provide for the welfare and the security of its citizens,” he said.
And I believe that the governors that are taking this option have that at the back of their minds. The states in which these Almajiris are operating, can we say that their welfare is being taken care of? Is adequate security being provided for them? And being minors, somebody has to take that responsibility. And I said we should look at it within the context. I believe that notable northern leaders have spoken extensively on the issue of the Almajiri. The former emir of Kano was very passionate about it, and I know the sultan has spoken about it and key leaders in the north, that if we do not deal with the issues relating to the almajiris, we are building an army that would overwhelm us as a people and as a nation in the future. If we do not cater for them, and provide for their welfare and turn them into productive citizens. There is nothing wrong about them learning the dictates of their faith. But we must prepare them equally for the future. Equip them, skill them so that they can become educated in their state and also productive citizens in the future, if not we are building an army that would overwhelm us in the future. So, I want to believe that the actions that have been taken by these governors are in context to provide for the security and the welfare, realising that virtually all of them are minors.” he said.
On Monday April 27, the Kaduna state government announced that five of the Almajiris repatriated from Kano state have tested positive for Coronavirus and have been taken into isolation.Photo Credit: Getty