President Muhammadu Buhari has asked state and local governments to play stronger roles in complementing the efforts of the Federal Government, especially in getting Almajiri children into classrooms.
He stated this when executive members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) led by the President, Dr Francis Adedayo Faduyile, paid him a visit at the State House.
According to a statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, Femi Adesina, quoted President Buhari; “The issues of health and education are constitutional. If there are too many Almajiris in a state, then the government is not following the constitution.
“The states also have elites who are educated enough to remind their governments about their responsibility to Almajiris,’’ he said.
President Buhari also spoke about security challenges, adding that successes recorded in degrading terrorists in the North East will be extended to various parts of the country experiencing challenges.
“If you cannot secure a country or institution, you cannot manage it.”
A member of All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Abdulkadir, has reacted to the planned abolition of the Almajiri system of education, calling on the Federal Government to address the unemployment problem.
Appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, the former lawmaker said that if the unemployment issue is addressed, the security challenges facing the nation can be reduced.
He also wants education to be a priority for the current administration in order to ensure that the citizens are effectively enlightened.
“Certainly, in any country where education is not gotten right, we are bound to be faced with problems one of which could be insecurity and general social instability.
“And the more we have educated people, the better for us not only in stabilising the security of a country but also in making progress in the lives of the people.
“Education is one of the problems, we have to get it right. We also have to fix the problem of unemployment. Unemployment, proving jobs is not only for the educated people,” he said.
Abdulkadir who is also a former Deputy Majority Leader of the Bauchi State House of Assembly also called for the expansion informal sector of the economy
Specifically, he wants the government to strengthen the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, that will engage many of the nation’s youths.
Similarly, a former Minority Whip in the House of Representatives, Umar Barde, decried the non-execution of budgetary allocation on the part of the executive.
While noting that the National Assembly has played its role of passing the nation’s budget, he believes the slow implementation has led to some economic problems among which is the Almajiri.
“If you look at the insecurity, what the National Assembly has been able to do all this while, we have been trying to provide money in defence, in terms of budgetary allocation.
“Most times, if you go to the Ministries, they will tell you money has not been released. When it comes to execution (of the budget), there is a problem. I have never seen a problem when the National Assembly refuses to allocate money for strategic needs.”
He, however, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to rejig his subordinates for effective delivery to the benefit of Nigerians.
Both comments come a few days after the National Economic Council disclosed that some groups like the Almajiri groups would be proscribed by the Federal Government.
A member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Katch Ononuju has called for the abolition of the Almajiri system of education in the northern part of the country.
He made the call on Thursday during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
“The United Nations recommends 26 per cent of your budget to education in developing countries. We spend less than 5.6 per cent of our national budget on education.
“The only good news I have heard today is a campaign I have been doing for the past 10 years that we must abolish the Almajiri system of education. Almaji and polygamy I will say are the two things that have kept Nigeria down.
“We should abolish Almajiri and pump more money and get the children into real schools. You cannot do anything that will help the children if you don’t avail them the logistics,” he said.
The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Drug Abuse in Nigeria, (PACEDA), General Buba Marwa Rtd. has called for concerted effort and swift action in combating drug abuse in Nigeria.
Gen Marwa made the call during a courtesy visit to the Acting Governor of Adamawa state, Martins Babale in Yola the Adamawa state capital as part of a nationwide advocacy against drug abuse.
Hundreds of Almajiri in the Jigawa State capital, Dutse, have turned to scavenging in order to survive.
The Chairman of the Scrap Dealers Association in Dutse, Ibrahim Musa, said scavenging offered the young boys an alternative to begging for food in the street.
This, he explained, is because, with scavenging, they can earn between N200 and N300 which can help them survive the day without begging.
“I can say hundreds of almajiri are able to feed themselves as a result of this business. In fact, their teachers now come to us for discussion on when best should they let them out for scavenging,” Musa said.
“An almajiri that is able to earn up to N200 to N300, to him, it’s enough. That is because he can afford to buy food and detergent. And sometimes these boys earn up N400 and N500 a day”.
Musa Ahmad, whose parents sent him to Dutse as an Almajiri, explained his new routine.
“We sell the valuables we find in the dumps such as metal, aluminium, copper and others. Today, I was just able to find some metal that weighs 2.5kilos that I sold at N75. If I get the money, I buy detergent and food.”
For them, it is a full-time job. One has to start early in order to get more benefits out of the dumps as there are other competitors.
Ahmad’s earning for the day is N75, for the 2.5kilos of metal he was able to carry on his back. Although it was little, it was enough to put a smile on his face.
There are campaigns against manual scavenging and the participating of children in the process, the Almajiri in Dutse, considers it an alternative to begging and some sort of light at the end of the tunnel.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar and the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) have urged Governors of the 19 northern Nigerian states and parents to encourage girl-child education and eradicate the Almajiri syndrome.
They are of the opinion that the move will eradicate illiteracy and poverty in the region.
The Sultan and UNICEF Country Representatives made the call on Sunday in Kaduna at a one-day advocacy meeting with the Commissioners of Education and traditional rulers from the 19 northern states.
The meeting was organised by the Sultan Foundation For Peace and Development to mobilise advocacy and support for the programme.
In his speech, Mr Abubakar while urging the Governors of the northern states to work out a deliberate plan to promote girl-child education in the region, also explained that Almajiri and all forms of begging in the region were against the teachings of Islam.
He expressed worry that the alarming rate of young girls dropping out of school, if not addressed as soon as possible, would continue to militate against the socio-economic development of the region in particular and the country in general.
In her remarks, the UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Jean Gough, noted that education remained the cornerstone of any development, which without it, no nation could achieve any meaningful development.
While she called on leaders of northern Nigeria to commit and take action to reduce the gap in girls’ enrollment and completion of basic education, she was optimistic that the meeting would also help to find solutions to challenges militating against equal access to education by the girl-child especially in the northeast where many children are out of school due to Boko Haram attacks.
The 2013 DHS education survey revealed that educational marginalisation in northern Nigeria is particularly pronounced among women.
According to the survey, about 69. 4 per cent of women in the north have no access to education at all when compared with the 5.5 per cent in the southern region.
Participants at the meeting believed that what was needed now was for the various State Governments in the region to develop a strategy of prioritising education, as an important way to tackle education deprivation for the girls.