The recently held Kaduna State Economic and Investment Summit not only refreshes our memory of evils of almajiri phenomenon in the north, it renews the perennial call for a more collective action. Without being immodest, virtually all the states in the north are already being afflicted by the menace. This has always been a major cause of worry for the northern hegemony since independence.A lot of kids in the school going ages are often out of school moving aimlessly round both rural and urban communities in search of food to eat on daily basis. They are largely victims of poor parenting, parental bereavement, parental neglect and abandonment.
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano state seems to be definitive when he admitted that almajiri syndrome is making the north to be depleted of needed manpower for the regional growth and development. Beyond expression of antipathy against the notoriety of the menacing practice are inherent dangers of this shameful tradition which has become a burden on our collective psyche as a people.
In Kano state alone, Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje gave an official figure that there are about three million out of school children roaming the streets of the state as almajiri-pupils of Quranic schools forced by poverty and parental deprivation into begging.
As a way to show a strong exception to intractable prevalence of the phenomenon in Kano state, Governor Ganduje alleged that most almajiri kids were not only from neighbouring states but were immigrants from some countries in west African. If truly these parasitic kids are from countries such as Niger Republic, Chad, Northern Cameroun and some parts of North-west, it makes the entire nation to become worried sick.
The incubus of the ignominious practice in the north had earlier been condemned by Emir Sanusi Lamido.
Obviously, Ganduje’s advocacy on the Almajiri syndrome corroborates the earlier claim by Emir of Kano that the northern leaders have largely abandoned their responsibilities over their citizens. I sincerely share Sanusi’s sentiment on the premise that the north is perpetually facing the challenge of denial of realities of the under-development of the region.
Given the socio-economic implications of the menace on the development of the north, the idea of evolving a common synergy by the affected states sounds plausible under the prevailing circumstance. If what will payoff is to discard the practice, the affected States in the north should rather consider the option.
Also, the idea of introducing common legislation and making the various existing institutions across the northern states become functional and effective as suggested by Governor Ganduje deserves a serious attention.
It is equally important to have an Integration Commission which would look into the development capacity of the existing institutions viz-a-viz the available resources, relevance and competence in halting the challenges of rising tide of almajiri phenomenon in the north.
Apart from policy framework and implementation strategies, it is desirous to achieve synergy in handling the challenge posed by almajiri’s mess up otherwise the future will be bleak. Again, each of the affected states needs value-re-orientation of both parents and wards on the need to imbibe new attitude and to accept the ideals of schooling as a matter of imperative.
Above all, the sophistry that almajiri‘s way of life will reduce hunger and malnutrition in the north is nothing but a ruse. If the proposed synergy is achieved by the northern governors, it will however give a hope of a more prosperous future for the north.
Rahaman Onike, Writes from Oyo, public administrator, freelance writer and author.