Almajiri: Open letter to northern governors – Part 2
We are all aware that these rights are not obtainable for the Almajiri child. He is the only responsible Nigerian that has no accessibility to healthcare services. His ailments are religiously and traditionally treated or resigning to fate. The Almajiri is not enrolled in the primary education system to learn basic skills to prepare him for future economic life. The Almajiri does not know rest and leisure. From morning to night, he is battling to make ends meet begging for alms. He does not know how to play games to boost his physical being. Even the little time he has for studies is inadequate for him to acquire the best knowledge after rigorous toiling. Your Excellencies, you are fully conversant with the condition of the Almajiri which is very dehumanizing.
It is for this reason that there were attempts in the past to address his predicament. In 1950, the government of Katsina enacted a law to forbid the migration of Mallams and Almajirai as it happened in other states in the northern region. In the year 1980, the former Sokoto state government promulgated a law to regulate the movement of the Almajirai. The edict was entitled: the Control of Juveniles Accompanying Koranic Mallams Adoptive Rules. In 1987, the Kano state government set up a 10 member committee on the Almajiranci. And in 1997, the Sokoto government again set up another committee to advise it on how best to tackle the problem of the Almajiranci. The committee recommended among other things the rehabilitation of beggar- destitute in the state and the incorporation of Islamic Educational System in the New National Policy on Education.
According to the United Nations Human Development Index, countries are measured in accordance with their economic prosperity, respect for rights and quality of the lives of their citizens. In respect of the Almajiri, you know that his economy is very poor, his right to dignity has been usurped and the quality of his living is very awkward. Thus, your greatest task is ensuring his promotion to the mainstream society so that he can feel a sense of belonging. With due respect, I would like to draw your attention to Malala Yousafzai’s empathic assertion. She declared and I quote, ‘Let us remember: one book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world’. Her mentioning of one child changing the world calls for sober reflections. Indeed, the Almajiri child is not thinking of how to change the world. His thinking begins and ends with how to serve his stomach. The pen he is supposed to use is no longer his priority. It would dishearten Malala to discover that millions of Almajirai in our society are wasted because their human potentialities are neglected, underrated and untapped. Consequently, our world remains unchanged because we erroneously feel that the Almajiri has nothing to offer.
Your Excellencies, the pathetic condition of the Almajiri should be accorded the priority it deserves because you have the capacity and available resources to tackle the problem. Napoleon Hill submitted that, ‘If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way’. The opportunity is now at your disposal to right the wrong. You have the chance to consolidate on past attempts at reformation. The only way you can strike a difference from past attempts is to ensure a synergy approach which will produce significant outcomes. A conference on Almajiri would therefore not be an unworthy venture. Yunusa Zakari Yau and Festus Okoye conducted a research on the topic: The condition of ALMAJIRAI in the North West Zone of Nigeria.
The findings of the research were published in 1999. It is imperative here to catch a quick glance at their recommendations for saving the Almajiri for your attention. One, government should see reform as a means of addressing specific urban social problem such as bara and juvenile delinquency as well as a means of meeting educational needs of the citizens. Two, government should intervene through assistance and regulatory framework. Three, government should carry out public enlightenment program to explain the rational of intervention.
Four, government should enact appropriate legislation and set up effective machinery for their enforcement, to protect children from child labor and other forms of exploitations. Of course, there are other possible and practicable suggestions to these. In his famous poem,’ Arewa: Jamhuriya ko Mulikiya’ Sa’adu Zungur said, Matukar yaran mu suna bara……… up to the last stanza. He warned us of the dire repercussions of Almajiranci. It is with profound optimism that I hereby remain faithful to your prompt and decisive action on this prolonged and devastatingly social problem.
Abdullahi wrote from Galadanci Quarters, Ringim, Jigawa State.
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