Special to USAfrica multimedia networks (Houston). USAfricaonline.com
One of Nigeria’s young and modernizing Governors, Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State, is advocating ending the current practice of the almajiri system of seeking Islamic knowledge in a country far away from the homes of those underaged children.
“I feel it is absolutely wrong to separate a child, three-four-five years old from home, send him to a town where he has no one to take care of him and end up in the streets where he is abused.”
In a statement sent to USAfrica in Houston by Mary Noel-Berje (the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Niger state), Bello said that it is a wrong practice that has been ongoing for the past 200 years where children of about three to five years are separated from their parents in supposed quest for religious knowledge.
“This is the worst form of human abuse you can think of.
A child of three, four years must have parental guidance”, he stated.
The governor added that this is an era where parents should produce children they have ability and capability to cater for and desist from shying away from their responsibilities under the guise of sending them away to seek Islamic knowledge.
He noted that, with Islamic Malams in virtually all wards in the country, children would be forced to seek any form of Islamic Knowledge within their environment such that they receive parental care instead of leaving them for the society to take over their responsibilities.
“So parents should own-up to their responsibility of taking care of their children”, he said.
The governor is of the opinion that, with the support of the Northern Governors’ Forum, the age long practice of almajiri system being practised would soon be a thing of the past.
He disclosed that Niger State government is working on a policy through the affiliation of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) to streamline a system where the children will acquire both western and religious knowledge in their localities, thereby giving no room on whatsoever ground for parents to send their wards away from them.
The governor promises that the present sangaya system of almajiri school activities will be regulated soon.
He said before repatriating the almajiris to their States of origin, such States would be properly informed so that they receive them, give them proper care before reuniting them with their parents.