Northern governors’ plan on Almajiri may have suffered an initial setback

248 views | Victor Gai | May 11, 2020

The recent decision of the northern governors to ban the Almajiri practice across the 19 northern States, has come with mixed fortunes, which might have confirmed the fears that the decision was rather premature.

The Northern Governors’ Forum, had in a recent meeting agreed to ban the practice of Almajiri in the north. The decision was taken considering the threat of the COVID-19, of which the Almajiris stand a great risk of contracting.

Consequently, the northern governors started by deporting the children to their various States.

Kano, Kaduna and Katsina took the first steps by deporting thousands of these Almajiris. But sooner had they began the deportation than another new wave of controversy set in. Many of these Almajiris were tested positive to the virus while Kano which deported the greater number of the street urchins, also received more than it bargained, when thousands of Almajiris from other parts of the country were brought home.

Also, the new plan exposed other states to these street urchins as some South-Eastern states battled to control their influx into the region.

While some northern states hurriedly deported the children to their various States, others kept them back and made arrangements for isolation for them.

This, however, indicates that the northern governors may be working on cross purposes.

For instance, the Taraba State Government had last Monday rejected several ‘almajiri’ children transferred from Nasarawa State. The state’s commissioner of information, Danjuma Adamu, said the kids were rejected because Nasarawa officials did not observe ‘due protocol’.

This also exposes the lapses inherent in the new unwritten policy by the governors and lack of a proper framework in place.

But in a recent interview on Channels TV, Kaduna State governor, Nasir El—Rufai, said the decision has been a subject of deep deliberations in the Northern States Governors’ Forum under the chairmanship of the Plateau governor, Simon Lalong, for the past 12 months.

“We’ve been looking for the ways and means to end this system because it has not worked for the children, it has not worked for Northern Nigeria and it has not worked for Nigeria. So, it has to end and this is the time,” he said.

He said his state has been expanding the capacities of schools in Kaduna with the hope of accommodating the subsequent integration of these children as the best alternative for them.

The governor, who expressed deep worry about the academic situation of the children

As I said “ You know, it is better to count 200 children in a primary school classroom and give them some kind of modern education than to allow them to waste their lives away, roaming about the streets begging for what to eat under this system.

“Anything is better than this system and we’re determined as Northern governors to end it,” he said.

El-Rufai also said, “if other Northern governors are treating the issues with levity, that is their own business. But I can assure you that in Kaduna State, the almajiri’s system is dead.”

The governor said he has reviewed a law that will formally prohibit such a system in his state, noting that all parents of the children “have been tracked and would be properly trained on parental responsibilities, to efficiently and effectively enforce the proposed model for the children.”

“We are not just abolishing the system, we’re not just telling the parents of the children, but we’ve let them know that the children must go to school once school is open and we’ve tracked every one of their parents and we’re going to counsel them on parental responsibilities. It is a long process, but the children must go to school,” he said.

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