The Lawmaker representing Katsina Central Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator Kabir Abdullahi, has waded into the raging issue of ban of street begging or Almajiri, saying that arresting them is not the solution to the problem facing children in states in northern Nigeria.
The Almajiri system has come under the spotlight in recent times with the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi leading the advocacy to reform the system.
The Governor of Kano State, Mr. Abdullah Ganduje, stirred the hornet’s nest earlier this week when he placed a ban on street begging common among the Almajiri children.
Following this ban, some scholars, under the guise of the Council of Ulamah, have kicked against this move to arrest the kids, noting that it was not well thought out.
Speaking with Muslim News in an exclusive interview at his Abuja office, Senator Abdullahi argued that it isn’t the fault of the poor children that they are Almajiri, but rather that of their home (their parents) who sent them out without looking back.
According to him, “The issue of Almajiri has a long history. But of course, if you look at it deeply, Islam doesn’t encourage the Almajiri system because the Qur’an and Hadith say parents, especially mothers are the first teachers of the child. This is why it becomes obligatory for parents to give their children proper Islamic and western education at home.
“So the issue should not be about arresting them because it is not their fault. What we should talk about is how to resolve the problem. We should know what the problem is and how we are going to solve it”.
Senator Barkiya, who is the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on FERMA called on the northern states Governors to set aside special funds to equip Almajiri schools and engage capable hands who have the requisite educational qualifications and basic requirements to teach the children comprehensive (western and Islamic) education.
“Assuming now the government says, let’s set aside adequate funds to equip the Almajiri schools to make sure they go through the screening and ensure they have the knowledge taught to them, it would have been a good development. Arresting them is like adding to the existing challenges we are still trying to find remedies for,” he added.
According to him, “The government should see to it that they are taught both Western and Islamic education in the school, and ensure that the teachers are qualified.
“When somebody is taking a child to Almajiri school, you know that the teacher is sound and knows what he’s doing regarding the Islamic knowledge to teach. When you go there, you are not going out begging for food.”
The Senator further urged the government to design programmes that will be of great benefit to the Almajiri children, adding that most of the children later join bad gangs because they are not catered for.
“These are basic things we should know, but if we say we should arrest them, then where are we taking them to? The best thing is to sit down and come up with a programme that would assist them because they are children of this country. We cannot reject them.
“Just because they are allowed to roam the streets without adequate care, some of them will eventually join join Boko Haram or other insurgent groups because they are left alone unchecked. When you take someone far away and you do not make adequate provisions for him – feeding, clothing and accommodation – how do you think that child will be good and achieve his potential?
“For instance, one Malam (teacher) can gather like 100 children under his tutelage, how will he cater for them without the parents funding their learning? And that’s the problem.”
He called on the Federal and the State governments to sit together and see how they can accommodate these children so that they can learn in the proper way, and in a conducive atmosphere.