A Muslim group, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has urged Northern governors in the country to put an end to the ugly phenomenon of “almajiri” who are often referred to a street beggars.
The group, in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Professor Ishaq Aintola, explained that the number of children involved in the al-majiri system has been rated at over ten million.
According to him, many al-majiri children are now commanders in the dreaded Boko Haram insurgency.
“For example, in places like Azare, Bauchi, al-majiris tie bowls to their clothes and beg for just anything, anything at all. In places like Maiduguri, Borno State, they offer to carry bags for strangers and they are ready to assist in doing house chores for a whole day once a meal is guaranteed. Older al-majiris in Maiduguri area sell sachet water while some do scavenging and sell whatever they find to recyclers.
“In thunder, rain and flood, al-majiri children crowd up in open spaces to spend the night. The few who find shelter share single mosquito-infested rooms with scores of others. They are prone to all sorts of contagious diseases. Their personal safety cannot be guaranteed and many fall into the hands of bad gangs, e.g, the notorious Yandaba boys of Kano,” the group stated.
MURIC, in the statement, appealed to Northern governors to come up with a master plan capable of resolving the al-majiri debacle once and for all. The plan, according to it, should take cognizance of the need for a census of all those involved in the system, buildings to be used as hostels, modern structures to be used as schools, adequate remuneration for the Islamic teachers, free feeding and capacity building for the kids, etc.
“While we commend the Jonathan administration for building al-Majiri schools in some parts of the North, Northern governors must be held responsible both for the misuse and disuse of those structures. Most of the al-majiri schools are lying fallow today while some have been converted to other uses. This is most unfortunate. The Buhari administration must also intervene by initiating a special project for the almajiranci.
“In the final analysis, the blame rests squarely on Northern politicians dead and alive for failing to see the threat coming and for their inability to evolve a means of combating it and bringing it to a halt. It may have been callous and myopic, but the present crop of politicians must not repeat the mistakes of history. Al-majiris must be reined in if the North really wants Boko Haram and gangsterism to become history,” the statement read.