By Bisi Olominu
They are in two, three and sometimes four begging for alms from those coming out of supermarkets in Akure. They are the gathering storm at the supermarkets waylaying people to give them money.
They always demonstrate by putting their hands to their months, It shows they are hungry and want people to support them with money to have daily meal. These are the invading Almajiris in Akure, the capital of Ondo State.
They look unkempt, they are between the ages of seven to thirteen, both boys and girls who should be in school, reading to safeguard their future, but as at today begging to survive.
The invading Almajirias look strange to some people in Akure, but gradually they are gaining momentum. Their parents, mostly the mothers are hiding somewhere, watching over the wandering children as they beg for ‘Sakat’ from those entering the supermarkets to buy goods.
”Megida please helep me, God bless you”, is usually the ringing tone to whoever is entering the supermarkets like OUK and several others along Oyemekun road axis of Akure.
The term, almajirai, (the plural form of almajiri) is conventionally used to refer to beggars or people who cannot provide for themselves and thus roam the streets in Northern Nigeria’s towns and cities. Unfortunately, it has become the defining feature of Islamism in Northern Nigeria, with the political elite manipulating them for political gains. Even a N15bn educational project by the Jonathan administration to improve the well-being of the almajiris was abandoned by Northern leaders.
As at today, former President Jonathan’s N15bn almajiri schools rot away in the north and the adverse effect is what we are seeing in Akure, the capital of Ondo State.
Speaking on this strange issue, Mrs Fadekemi Oshodi posited that it is high time for government to do something urgent about this. These are young people who should be in schools gaining knowledge and understanding, but today wasting their future away, begging for money when they are completely whole with no infirmity in their bodies.
” It is absurdity of the highest order to see this little children wasting away with no future. Their today in not good and there is nothing the future is holding for them. In their various States, begging is known to them but it is very strange to us here seeing little children roaming the front of supermarkets to beg for money. Their mates are in the school, burning candlelight of knowledge and they are here begging. As for me I have decided that I will not give them anything. Even, when I see how their people are raping, killing, maiming and destroying our people here in the south without provocation, I have decided that I will never give them any kobo from my pocket.
” Ondo State government should do everything to tame the monster gradually creeping into the state. We are known for our dexterity, commitment and industriousness in this clime. Their leaders too should gradually erase this Almajiri kind of thing from their memory. Sometimes now, they will marry off these young ladies to people who could be their grandfathers. Is that not another slavery.
” We are grappling with insecurity in the state now. Who knows if those begging at the supermarkets front are informants to their masters?
Also speaking with The Hope, Mr Jude Orhi said that the sight of the Almajiri was nonsensical and should be a great concern to authorities and the state capital. He added that some Yoruba school children are always at the supermarkets to make cool money on Saturday and after school hours, and even during holidays, but these people have no infirmity yet like to beg for money. They have nothing to hold on to now and in the future.
” There is diginity in labour, it is high time for them to know that begging could not lead them to their promised land, but only hard work could make them great. It is an irritant seeing them while coming in to buy drinks and confectionery in the supermarket and being confronted by eagle eyed children putting their hands in their mouth and begging for money”.
To Mrs Toyin Gbadegesin, if government should allow this to fester, it will turn to another thing. The Fulanis have completely taken over Okada business in the state. You can see them everywhere. Even in the interior of the state capital, you will see them riding Okada. Now the Almajiri is creeping into the state capital. Children who should be in the school are outside begging for alms, while their parents are sitting somewhere doing nothing.
” If you know that you cannot cater for your children, why giving birth to them?
Ondo state government should find solution to this, and it could also concern the young boys begging and cleaning windscreens along Oja Oba’s road in Akure. They are coming in droves and very soon the state will not contain them.”
In her contribution, Mrs Modupe Adeola said that it was strange seeing such in the capital. She added that very soon, Almajiri will not be curtailed in Akure as they will be coming in droves since the authorities are giving them opportunities to operate.
” I have been seeing them molesting people while entering supermarkets all over Akure, but few weeks ago I encountered two of them as I was about to buy wines along Oyemekun road in Akure. They came to me begging for alms, I looked at them strangely and asked them to go from my side. Methink such children should be in school.
Even if they could not go to school, they can learn trade that could make them to survive in the future. They are wasting away and it is high time something urgent was done on their issue.
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