Monday Column by Emmanuel Yawe
email@example.com | 08024565402
The grave insecurity situation that has engulfed the whole country has once again redirected our attention to the almajiri scourge.
Late last year, the most competent person in government to draw our attention to the correlation between almajiri and insecurity, the National Security Adviser, Major-Gen Babagana Monguno warned that the country can no longer afford to sweep the fact that almjiri is a source of national insecurity under the carpet.
nguno, who spoke at the launch of the National Security Strategy, 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari, said the Almajiri issue must be addressed as part of the solution to insecurity in the country.
At the event, Buhari said that a safer, secure nation was the main objective of the Federal Government’s new security strategy.
Monguno disclosed that embedded in the new strategy was a comprehensive approach to address poverty, healthcare delivery challenges and out of school children, particularly the Almajiri system.
He stated, “It addresses the current threats faced by the Nigerian nation as well as those threats that are anticipated to emerge in the near future.
Citing how the Almajiri system could overwhelm Nigeria in the future, the NSA spoke in detai: “Rooted in the strategy are issues that may not be visible to the naked eyes, but have tended to be malignant to cause greater problems to this society.
“The issue of illiteracy is directly linked to the issue of children not going to school. This Almajiri phenomenon, which we have been talking about, we cannot continue to push it under the carpet. Eventually, it will come back to bite us in the butt, big time; we need to deal with this issue and it is the responsibility of all of us to try and take care of this issue without any inhibition.
Since then many prominent Nigerians, particularly from the North have come out to back the NSA’s call for an urgent action on the Almajiri system.The Emir of Gusau in Zamfara State, Alhaji Ibrahim Bello has strongly condemned the system.
The Emir, in an interview with newsmen said the Almajiri system was a terrible situation that needed to be controlled before it went out of control. He said, “If the system is left to continue will come to a time when those children will turn out to be hardened criminals, thereby causing security threat to the country.”
The emir said the system was an avenue of breeding criminals because children, who left their parents and came to urban areas for Quranic education, ended up learning all sorts of criminality.
The emir said Islam did not encourage the Almajiri system. He stated, “There is nowhere in the Holy Quran or teachings of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) where the Almajiri system is allowed. It is against the religion of Islam to send children away from their parents to become Almajiri. It is a bad practice,” the emir said.
Only last month, The Emir of Kano, Mohammed Sanusi, and Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi advised that parents of Almajiri children should be arrested and not their children, for constituting a nuisance to the society. Sanusi also called for enactment of laws by state governments to tackle injustices in marriages.
Sanusi who spoke as the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar at the Joint National Conference of Nigerian Conference of Nigeriann Supreme Council on Islamic Affairs NSCIA and Future Assured Initiative on Repositioning the Muslim Family for National Development, at the State House, Abuja said government and the courts would answer to Allah for refusing to grant justice
Future Assured Initiative is a pet project of the First Lady, Aisha Buhari.
In his remarks, Sanusi tacked the roots of the problem saying that everyday wives were complaining about their husbands who claimed their rights but abandon their responsibilities of marriage. He also said that women complained being divorced, with their husbands not taking care of the children and those children ending up on the streets, doing drugs, political thuggery and violent extremism.
He said: ‘’There was no law that talks about consent in marriage, the rights of wives and husbands, domestic violence, rights of women divorced, the responsibilities of husbands under divorce situations. If a child is found on the streets, it’s the father that is responsible and can the state hold him accountable? These are Shariah and they are all more important than cutting off the hand of a thief.”
Asking rhetorically whe-ther men could marry and have children without any responsibilities, the Emir said: “The reason Allah send His Prophets is that there should be justice in this world. Justice in our relationship with our maker and in our relationship with our fellow human beings.
“Justice means that everyone is given his rights. If a man takes the privilege of being the head of the family, he takes the responsibilities of being the provider of the family. You cannot take that privilege and abandon the responsibilities.
“Is it a fact that a father has the right to force his daughter into a loveless marriage? That you have the rights to batter your wife? You have the right to have children and push them to the streets to beg? That when you divorce your wife, you ask her and her children to pack and go back to her father’s house and that is the end?
“I can spend 100 years saying that it is wrong and un-Islamic for a man to beat his wife, but it is the governor and the State House of Assembly that should pass the law, it is the Courts and the Police that will make sure that the woman gets justice. The Scholars and Emirs cannot do that.
“It is only the governors who can pass the laws to say that when a man divorces his wife, it is his responsibilities to provide for the children, it is the courts and security system that will enforce. “ So, the problem is these groups of human beings are those who will stand to answer to Allah if there is no justice.
‘’Traditional and religious leaders have an obligation to ask for justice, but those with the political powers have an obligation to put in place the processes that will make sure that these justices are complied with.”
Concurring with Emir Sanusi, the Ooni of Ife, Enitan-Ogunwusi, said: “It is not only about roads, we have to give (Almajiri) that exposure, that orientation and let them know that they have a very solid impact to make in nation building.
.On his part, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, said: “Nigeria of over 200 million people, there is no way we can divide ourselves. The conference was designed to bring every one together.
“We are not short of recommendations and resolutions, what we lack is implementation. Give marching orders to the governors to implement resolutions reached, you have the big stick as the Commander-in-Chief. Nobody will come and solve this problem for us. No matter how big a person is, it is not bigger than Nigeria.
It is thus clear from the views of top government, religious/traditional leaders and security officials that almajiri is an evil that must be eliminated from our society. What is left is action by government. The government must act fast. One way of doing so is to pay more attention to the almajiri school system that was introduced by the Goodluck Jonathan government.