El-Rufai rolls out punishment for parents of Almajiri children

El-Rufai rolls out punishment for parents of Almajiri children

Monday, May 25, 2020 9:09 pm


El-Rufa during-a-visit-to-over-200-Almajiris-undergoing-rehabilitation on Monday

Gov. Nasir El-Rufa’i of Kaduna State has warned that parents who enroll their children into the Almajiri education system stand the risk of prosecution and up to two years jail.

El-Rufa’i stated this in Kaduna on Monday when he visited some 200 Almajiri children repatriated from Nasarawa State and undergoing rehabilitation and optical screening at Government College, Kurmin Mashi, Kaduna.

Almajiri are children enrolled to be taught Islamic knowledge under Islamic Clerics, but who loiter on the streets with bowls begging for alms and food.

The governor also said that any Islamic cleric who enrolls any child into the Almajiri system would also be prosecuted and jailed as well as fined N100,000 or N200,000 per child.

He said that all the Almajiri pupils repatriated from other states of the country were indigenes of the state adding that the government would give them all the opportunity they deserved to grow and develop.

El-Rufai expressed satisfaction with the ongoing transformation of the Almajiri pupils from hopelessness to hope and confidence.

According to him, the state has a responsibility to do whatever it can to give them hope and a better future.

“We will, therefore, continue to take delivery of every Almajiri pupil indigenous to Kaduna state for rehabilitation, treatment and enrollment into formal school nearest to where their parents live.

“We will continue to do this until we clear Kaduna state of the menace of Almajiri system, which is not education but the abuse of the privilege and future of a child.

“Our ultimate goal is for them to acquire formal education without depriving them of the opportunity to acquire Quranic education.

“They will continue their Quranic education but under the care of their parents and not under someone who does not know them or paid to look after them.”

He explained that the Ministry of Human Services and Social Development (MHSSD), along with UNICEF would closely monitor them and ensure that no child would leave his locality until he finished primary and junior secondary school.

The governor stressed that every child in Kaduna state must get 12-year free and compulsory primary and secondary school education.

“Those that cannot proceed to senior secondary school will have the opportunity to go to vocational school, also free.

“As such, no parent has any excuse for his child not to go to school,” El-Rufa’i said.

He thanked MHSSD and other state agencies for the commitment and passion for the welfare of the children.

He equally thanked AMA foundation and other NGOs and civil societies for supporting the government to provide the Almajiri pupils with the needed medical care, food, and clothing, among others.

The governor particularly appreciated UNICEF for supporting the state government in ensuring that all the repatriated children were well documented.

El-Rufa’i said that the care and support provided had restored the sense of dignity of the children.

Also speaking, Hajiya Hafsat Baba, Commissioner, MHSSD, said that the state had so far received more than 900 Almajiri pupils from Kano, Bauchi, Plateau and Nasarawa states.

Baba said that no fewer than 500 of them were rehabilitated, treated (those who tested positive to COVID-19) and reunited with their families.

She added some 400 others were still undergoing rehabilitation and would soon be reunited with their families.

On his part, Dr Zakari Adam, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Kaduna, commended Kaduna state government for the efforts to ensure that all children go to school as against begging in the streets.

Adam reiterated UNICEF’s continued support to the state in all children-related issues such as child protection, education, and health among other areas, for uninterrupted growth and development of every child.

He stressed the need for all stakeholders, the government, civil society, parents, communities, religious and traditional leaders and the media to work together in ensuring that children acquired quality education.

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  • Babs Ajayi says:

    Almajirai is the baby of Northern Nigeria and it must remain with Northern Nigeria. No one should try to change his or her destiny as Allah has arranged it has always been the way they put it. The Oligarchy liked it that way and they conceived it and maintained it that way. The Sadauna of Sokoto, Mr. Ahmadu Bello was Premier of Northern Nigeria from 1954 to 1966. He perpetuated a reign of ignorance and subservience. Bello focused heavily on traditional Koranic education, which boosted the Almajiranci system and entrenched it in nearly every part of the North. The Almajiranci system encourages parents to leave parental responsibilities to the Islamic school, which render Islamic knowledge to an Almajiri (male child) and Almajira (female child) under the tutelage of a Malammai, the Islamic teacher, who himself went through the Almajiranci system. The Almajiranci system relies heavily on sadaka, which are offered to them by the rich and not-so-rich, particularly on Fridays, the day of Jumat.

    Begging for alms has been very central to the survival of Almajiris, which is nothing but child abuse because the alms the boys collect go to their Malammai. This process of child abuse has gone on for more than 70 years in Northern Nigeria and is now threatening to overrun the North, hence the encouragement from the very same Northern Oligarchy that created them to urge them to move to the South. This is a grand failure by the Oligarchy of which Sanusi Lamido has recently been very critical of.

    Almajiris also rely on food leftovers from food courts, mama puts and shops around the towns and cities in Northern Nigeria. I encountered the raggedly dressed, hungry-looking, lean and gaunt, and mostly bare-footed Almajiris for the first time in Kaduna in 1995 during a consulting assignment. I had lodged at the Durbar Hotel for several weeks and would visit the restaurants right inside the big ground opposite the hotel to have lunch. Almajiris are forever constant in that courtyard in search of leftovers because of the several food sellers there.

    They are the eagle-eyed urchins who dash for your food plate the very moment you stand up and turn your back on your food! They are omnipresent and so hungry you can be very forgiving even when they poach your plate while you got up with the hope of getting water or soft drink, and you look back to find your food gone! That was the kind of social structure created by the Oligarchy in the North – the very same who sent their own children to schools and universities in the United Kingdom. These selfish and self-described Emirate leaders connived and worked with the British Government to hinder the development of Nigeria and to hold down development and progress in Northern Nigeria for as long as they do the biddings of the British.

    I will never forget the story Bari Adedeji Salau, the former chairman of Somolu Local Government in Lagos told me many years before his death. He had gone to meet Mr. Baba Gana Kingibe in his home in Maiduguri. They were in Kingibe’s living room for a few hours and were suddenly aroused from their seats by the noise of commotion coming from outside. Outside were Almajiris rushing for food and causing mayhem. By the time the Almajiris were done with their food rush and fight, the whole compound was left in a mess – with splashes of tuwo shinkafa on the floor. Kingibe and his household, it seemed to Bari, were used to it as the ground was quickly cleaned after the Almajiris have collected sadaka from their host. Bari learnt from his host that the Almajiris pay regular visit to his house every Friday!

    You will expect these young boys and girls to be in school rather than roaming the streets, going nowhere and everywhere begging for money and begging for food – the food for their stomach and the money to be taken to their Malammais, who in most cases have children who are attending regular primary and secondary schools and whose future are assured. But not the Almajiris; they are not expected to change their fortune: they are to remain where Allah has placed them – a life of poverty, hunger, homelessness and misery. As annoying as that may sound, the Northern Oligarchy defended it and for decades held it up as a model. This crooked model is about to engulf the whole North in a furious flame that is threatening to consume the caliphate. It is only when the fire is threatening that they want the South to share in the calamity that the Almajiris are about to inflict on the caliphate.

    When Chief Obafemi Awolowo introduced fee education in the West he was derided for it and his program was labeled ‘cheap education.’ Awolowo was called names by Nnamdi Azikiwe and some of his followers, who condemned free education as lacking in quality, though some of them quickly moved their wards across the Niger (as noted by Odia Ofeimun recently in an interview) and put them in schools in the Mid West. Education is crucial to development and until the Almajiranci system is completely abandoned and Islamic Studies added to regular school curriculum the North may never know peace and the rule of the Northern Oligarchy will be terminated for good. Theirs is an evil and wicked system that bodes no good for the majority of their people. It suppresses the majority to enable the minority live large, exploit the masses and endanger the lives of the talakawas. It looks like all that is about to change and so should it be.

    Babs Ajayi
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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