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COVID-19: A Panacea To End Almajiri Child ‘Street Begging’ In Northern Nigeria

By Abdullahi D. Hassan
12 May 2020   |   8:57 am
Right from the beginning of this year, the world has faced the worst adversity in the twenty-first century, the new respiratory disease from Wuhan China named novel coronavirus or COVID-19. This virus has claimed the lives of many people and spread across the globe has been listed as a global health emergency and pandemic in February…

Almajiri | Financial Trust

Right from the beginning of this year, the world has faced the worst adversity in the twenty-first century, the new respiratory disease from Wuhan China named novel coronavirus or COVID-19. This virus has claimed the lives of many people and spread across the globe has been listed as a global health emergency and pandemic in February by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Consequently, almost all sectors have been affected by COVID-19. From changed schedules; stoppage of sporting activities, cancellation of international flights and a drastic fall of the global stock markets since the 2008 Financial Meltdown.

Different views, comments and assertions have also emerged on the coronavirus ranging from the ‘New World Order’, ‘Conspiracy Theory’ from West to biological-warfare between China and the United States. Questions have also been asked on how the world would look like in Post-Coronavirus Pandemic. For Northern Governors, this is an avenue to put an end to the Almajiri system of Education. For a long time, issues have been raised to subvert the system.

The Northern Governor’s Forum comprising 19 state governors from Nigeria last week, agreed to return thousands of Almaijiri to their hometowns in order to curtail the spread of the virus. In addition, they agreed, unanimously, to totally ban the system. However, this was met with criticism. Even the government-owned schools are in the state of brink, like lack of learning materials, lack of qualified teachers and dilapidated buildings. With such challenges, core conservative individuals that perceive Almajiris education as a belief system and a creed they inherited from their forefather and act of religion.

It is a mournful sight to see boys as young as 6 to 12 years, rambling across the street of most rural areas and cities in Nigeria’s Muslim north. The awkward outlook of Almajiri portrays a lackluster by the Northern populace. It is crystal clear poverty is thrust to this threat or advocate of dogmatic worldview. Why isn’t the Almajiri system only practised in Northern Nigeria and some part of Niger and Chad, which is not practised in the Muslim nation like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Morocco? It means it is anti-Islam. Since there is no Quran verse or Hadith permits begging.

Before the advent of the 21st century, the north had a relative poverty scale. And also, people in the 50s and 80s were more humane than now. Food was shared to destitute Almajiri without hindrance. Nowadays rich individuals in the Northern Nigeria society are not humane to poorish people. Among the Five Pillars of Islam, there is Zakat (almsgiving). That can be given even to Non-Muslims. There is a saying “if the wealthiest individual in Kano can give Zakat according to Islamic tenets, abject poverty in Northern Nigeria will be drastically minimised”. 

Due to the explosion of population and magnitude of poverty in the region, at the present moment some rich households hired Almajiri and work like slaves. After the manual labour, he was giving leftover and peanut bait in return.

Whenever one visits Northern cities, one is welcomed by the sight of shabbily dressed children holding dirty plastic bowls.

Whenever a vehicle stops, you see them run fast to beg money from passengers and motorists. Thus, Almajiris on Thursdays and Fridays wallowing from Motor Park to market, they spend the day in the scorching sun in their numbers. At times, if Almajiris return empty-handed, there is a corporal punishment from the Mallam and senior Almajiri. Thus, deplorable Almajiri rises up in the street without tender love and care of his parents, in the survival of the fittest.

Aforementioned challenges can easily expose Almajiri to countless atrocities. If care is not taken, he ends up as a radicalised and deviant to societal values. Hunger and starvation is a driving force to most of the crime syndicates such as a Boko Haram, banditry, drug addiction, political thugs, sexual assault and all kind of criminalities.

In 2012, former President Goodluck Jonathan made a historic milestone for building ‘Almajiri School’ across the North, which has a scourge of Almajiri child. This magnificent project was stopped and some of the schools turn into a mushroom. Instead, this tremendous effort should integrate with western education to harnessed and leverage abundant children. In spite,  Northern Nigeria has the highest of Head of State and Presidents that ruled the nation for nearly five-decades.

This melancholic perspective is often attached to British colonial masters for their strategic ‘Indirect Rule’ to the Northern colony. The gloom of past events will not be mended with the lack of strategy and plan. Northerners that have an affliction of Almajiri should adopt a proper way of family planning and those with minimal incoming not be allow marrying another wife. Almajiri is an antithesis to time bomb against Nigeria.   

Northern elites and policymakers are often blamed British Colonial Masters and Indirect Rule are the factors lead Almaiji eduction fall in jeopardy for almost two centuries. Historians align it to the gruesome killing of Sultan Muhammadu Attahiru in 1903, by Colonel Frederick Lugard made life miserable to Almaijiris. Therefore, Northern should stopped recalling past events and create a feasible way to the traditional system and integrate them with western education. So that, in future can become future leaders, thinkers and global players in intellectual acuity

  1. There is no planning from the Northern governors for improving the system. It just a mirage
  2. I want to explain even the government schools is not well functioning.
  3. There is a verse in the Quran that supports begging and this Hadith “Some among you do not ever abandon begging. Finally, on the Day of Resurrection, that dishonourable person will meet Allah with no flesh left on his face.” (Muslim, Zakat, 103)
  4. Northern Nigeria has the highest Head of States and President for almost five-decade
  5. The northern elite should stop blaming British for Almajiri should create new plans
  6. After the killing of Sultan Attahiru in nearly 200 years. Almajiri face countless challenges