SWITZERLAND, MAY 26 – Governor of Kaduna State, Nasiru El-Rufai, has said that all the 218 Almajirai who were recently repatriated to Kaduna State would be compulsorily enrolled in primary schools.
He said yesterday that the former child urchins were being restored full human rights, dignity and hope as children.
“Every child in Kaduna has equal opportunity and access to 12 years of free and compulsory education in our public schools,” he said.
This is even as the pan-Northern socio-cultural organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, and Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, threw their weights behind the governor, insisting that they would support any policy that would rehabilitate the Almajirai for good.
However, the Joint Association of Northern Youth Groups said unless Northern governors revived the programme former President Goodluck Jonathan put in place for the Almajiri children, the desired objective might not be achieved.
Governor El-Rufa’i said on his Facebook page that he was “pleased to see our Almajiri children, the batch of 218 from Kano, Nassarawa, Plateau & Gombe States looking well & free of COVID-19.”
“With the support of @UNICEF_Nigeria, AMA Foundation, other NGOs & philanthropists, they are being restored full human rights, dignity & hope as children! Every child in Kaduna has equal opportunity and access to 12 years of free and compulsory education in our public schools.”
The governor disclosed that the next step was for the Commissioner of Human Services and Social Development, Mrs Hafsat Baba, and her team to return the Almajirai to their parents in collaboration with local government chairmen and traditional rulers.
“All the children are to be compulsorily enrolled in the primary school nearest to them so they have modern education and life skills in the morning, and continue their Quranic or Islamic education in the afternoon and over the weekend.
“That is how many of us got our education. That is what the Northern States’ Governors’ Forum decided. These children may be the future of Northern Nigeria,” he said.
Reacting to El-Rufa’i’s statement on the Almajiri children, the National Publicity Secretary of Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, said: “It’s a wonderful idea; any policy that will turn the Almajirai into useful citizens the ACF will support it.”
It could be recalled that the ACF had earlier declared support for the Northern Governors on Almajirai repatriation.
ACF spokesman had said: “The decision to repatriate Almajirai to their states was taken by the Northern Governors Forum and we have no quarrel with that because we don’t believe in the Almajiri system.
“It’s a retrogressive system. We don’t believe in it at all. It’s against the human development of the North and the development of the country. So, the ACF is against the almajiri system.
“So, the decision of the governors to take them to their states of origin and the state to find their families, we totally agree with it. This is because if somebody has given birth to a child, he should be in a position to look after that child and not throw the child onto the streets.
“We support that decision. But the only problem is with the implementation. The implementation is very clumsy and the governors should sit up and implement in a proper way.”
Also reacting yesterday, Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, said he was throwing his full weight behind Governor el-Rufai.
“I support it because clearly the issue has become a nuisance. As far as I’m concerned, whoever wants to send children to school should be encouraged.
“This is so because refusing to send the children to school or have education is like abuse on those children. So I support it; I endorse what he plans to do,” he said.
The Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, AYCF, also backed the governor on his mission.
President of AYCF, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, in a telephone conversation with the media, urged other Northern governors to follow the footsteps of Governor El-rufai in this regard.
He said: “We’re excited about the news because the Almajirai is not different from any other Nigerian child. So, Governor El-Rufai’s move is a welcome development to us.
“However, it is a shame some people still do not believe the Almajirai should be fully integrated into society so that they can become meaningful members.
“The Almajiri is a child with the basic rights to education. The Child Rights Act does not exist only for privileged children. The Almajiri boy may, indeed, hold the key to the future of this nation if properly educated.
“So, we urge other governors to do replicate in their respective state what Gov. El-rufai plans to do for the Almajiris in Kaduna.”
But Murtala Abubakar, Convener of the Joint Action Committee of Northern Youth Associations, said the governor’s statement should be viewed with caution.
“The governor is known for making promises regarding the education of children of the masses in the past just to make headlines. The problem militating against the Almajiri system of education is a lack of political will and consensus among the critical stakeholders.
“What the governor is advocating is not going to work; the system needs reforms not abolition. Therefore, what the Northern governors need is to replicate President Goodluck Jonathan’s template and make improvements where necessary.
“Deportations of these children by one governor to another is not only counter-productive but also dehumanizing as it stands condemned.”