The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has kicked against Rev. Matthew Kukah’s Almajiri initiative, saying it is a modern way of colonising Northern youths.
Professor Lakin Akintola, the Director of the human rights body, was reacting to the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto’s plan to train 10 million Almajiri children in Northern Nigeria.
Prof Akintola said that Kukah’s idea raises more questions than answers, describing the cleric’s proposal as a ploy for proselytisation, modern colonialism and a potential time bomb.
According to him, “we all agree that something must be done about the Almajiri children. We can welcome ideas from everyone but the implementation must be in the hands of Muslims in the region.
“Any other scenario will make the intention questionable. We cannot pretend to be so naïve as to entrust our Muslim children to the hands of Christian gospellers. As far as we are concerned, Kukah’s Almajiri dream is a Trojan horse”.
He added: “These children have teachers, even if the system is unconventional. The parents entrusted them to the teachers and learning still takes place somehow. The devil we know is still better than the one we do not know and we expect Rev. Kukah to know better.
Can any Christian community allow an Islamic organization take their children away just like that? What became of the children taken from Chibok to an Edo IDP centre in 2014?
“Whatever the situation may be, we wish to caution Northern Muslims, particularly the elders, to never allow this to happen. Instead of allowing Christian missionaries to seize this kind of initiative, Northern Muslims should empower available Muslim NGOs to cater for Almajiri children.
“We know from experience that whatever happens will be a point of reference in the near future. Who will bear the shame at that time? We therefore advise state governments in the region to rearrange their priorities and concentrate on the education and welfare of Almajiri children.
“One indisputable fact is that Almajiri is essentially a system practiced by Northern Muslims. It is not part of Christendom from North to South. Is Rev. Kukah telling us that he prefers to alleviate poverty among Muslims to doing same among Christians?
Is he telling us that he loves to assist Muslims more than he loves to help Christians? Can Rev. Kukah give any guarantee that those children will remain the same at the end of his intervention? It is modern colonialism.
“When did the Reverend Father suddenly develop so much love for Muslims that he has now decided to give them preference above his Christian folks? Are there no poverty-stricken children in the Christian-majority Middle Belt, particularly in Benue and Plateau? Why can’t he take his project there? This type of project demands trust. No NGO can successfully train children or adults in an atmosphere of mutual distrust.”
Prof Lakin said the initiative is repulsive and has the tendency to portray Muslims as a bunch of unintelligent, irresponsible and carefree people.
“We cannot allow such a misleading impression to remain just like that. Muslims are responsible, idealistic, pious, self-satisfied and integrity-loaded. The Glorious Qur’an asserts that we are the best among mankind (Qur’an 3: 110).
Every Muslim is born free. We are nobody’s slaves and we bow only to Almighty Allah. We cannot allow anybody to paint us in another colour to the outside world.”