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Influx Of Almajiris To Southwest

A disturbing trend manifesting during this COVID-19 pandemic is the influx of street urchins otherwise known as Almajiris from the Northern part of the country to the South west and other parts of the country.
Last Wednesday at the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, the FCT Ministerial Enforcement Team apprehended 29 Okada riders who were travelling in a truck from Lafia, Nasarawa state to Lagos.
THE Lafia incident was not the first time as the Cross River State government on May 9 reportedly intercepted and sent back trucks carrying no fewer than 30 Almajiris at the Gakem-Benue border in Cross River.
A similar scenario played out at the border between Lagos and Ogun few weeks ago when security operatives arrested about 60 Lagos-bound northerners, who hid in a truck conveying cows to Lagos at the Berger end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. The travellers were reportedly coming from Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, and Kano states.
THE influx of people from the northern part of the country became a security concern since the governors of the 19 northern states resolved to repatriate Almajiris to their states of origin. However, rather than return to their states of origin, a good number of them headed Southwards, thus fueling speculations over the motive of their choice of new destination.
THE Almajiri system comes from both the cultural and religious settings of the Northern part of this country where parents give out their children to the Quranic scholars with a view to undergoing Quranic education. Due to limited resources at the disposal of their teachers, the children are made to roam the streets begging for alms and food.
THE movement of Almajiris to the south is an attestation of social and systemic failure of the Northern elites. It is unfortunate that these children that have become urchins and miscreants with bleak hope for the future are flocking the streets posing potential danger to the security and social lives of people of the south west Nigeria.
WE are equally concerned over the frenzy and desperation with which the children who are only ‘armed’ with begging bowls and rag tagged fend for themselves in a strange land where they have no relations, decent and human shelter nor feasible means of livelihood.
IT is unfortunate that parents and the Northern elites pretend and refuse to find a lasting solution to the age long problem. We recall that the former Emir of Kano, Sanuni Lamido Sanusi had championed the cause of the Almajiris before his dethronement. They however turned a deaf ear to his campaigns.
WE therefore commend the vigilance of security agencies and people of the region for taking the stand to protect their domain since the influx became noticeable.
WE equally appreciate efforts by some visionary and well-meaning Northern leaders like Governor El Rufai of Kaduna State and the former Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi`s for their passion towards the eradication of the Almajiri system in the North.
IT is good that some elites in that part of the country realize the social threat which Almajiri system poses to the progress of their people . They should, however, not allow their problems to be shifted to the SouthWest where parents and government treasure their own children and invest tangible percentages of their resources to give them good leverages in life.
THE issue of claiming constitutional right of residing in any part of the country does not hold much water. It is a known fact that the Northern state governments have equally repatriated the Almajiris to their states of origins. Besides, relationships among Nigerians should be of mutual status and not one where one will be a perpetual nuisance and parasites to the other.
THE Hope commends the efforts of the SouthWest Governors, especially Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for taking the bull by the horn and making sure all the boundaries of Ondo State are well fortified to prevent further incursion of these Almajiris.
We are delighted that Mr. Governor has also provided logistic supports for the communities sharing borders with other neighbouring states and motivating the security. Local people should be very alert to report new and strange faces seen around them to the appropriate authorities or traditional rulers before damages are further done to our social system. For now, we can’t afford to sleep with both eyes closed while the desperate Almajiris and their sponsors are striving desperately to pollute our social system.
Northern governors should take a cue from the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasiru El-Rufai for his rehabilitation policy of giving a new lease of life to the Almajiris in his state.
This is the way to go rather than dumping the unfortunate kids on the door steps of unwilling states.

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