No word can possibly describe how happy i was last weekend when I listened to the National Security Adviser, Alhaji Babagana Mongono saying the government is set to ban the Almajiri system of education. My happiness was further reinforced seeing that the man making the announcement is a northerner. I had always wondered why that system had been allowed to run unchecked all the while.
But I was rather crest fallen, when 24 hours after, one of the Spokesmen of President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Garba Shehu, another northerner, somewhat countered what the NSA said, by explaining that the said ban is not immediate but “an objective”, so it does not creat a backlash, even as President Buhari had openly denounced the Almajiri system .
The Alamjiri system of education allows parents to give birth to as many children as they do not have the capacity to train or even cater for . And at very early age, say six or less, the children are releasedto some Islamic teachers, sometimes in very far away towns and villages; sometimes, outside the state, to be trained in Quaranic system of education. Thus in the homes of such Islamic teachers, there could be as many as 100 or more children under his tutelage. There is no provision for the children’s welfare. Thus, they are unleashed into the society to go beg for food and alms. This runs for years. Sometimes the children do not even know or are unable trace their biological parents anymore. They seemingly get lost in the mix. They grow into adolescence and adulthood, knowing little about how to survive and live, save for begging. Even when former President Jonathan built the Alamajiri schools, it did not change the sorry story. Why should any responsible government close its eye to this anomaly in the name of culture and religion?
It is not for nothing that it was the NSA who made the announcement. No doubt, findings and intelligence had shown that the Boko Haram menace that has plagued the nation for ten years now derives its workforce from the Almajiri. Is it not said that the idle mind is the devil’s workshop?With an unsustainable career in begging, what else is left for an adult Almajiri, who is himself an epitome of ignorance and poverty? It is to be expected that they will be primary raw materials for the Boko Haram army. The sheer number of the Alamjiri in the north explains why, for years, despite the killings, decimation and de-radicalisation scheme of the federal government, the war is still raging. Were it not for ignorance which dwells among the Alamjiri, how could they be lured into suicide missions just because their wives are promised or given N10,000?
They have been the fuel that has kept the fire of terrorism burning in the country. They have nothing at stake. Their value for life is scant, no thanks to the brainwash they are fed with.
Yes, it may not be abrupt banning, but the truth is that it is anachronistic and it should have ended like yesterday. The time to act is now. Let the practice stop!