The Federal Government of Nigeria has been warned to act fast and integrate Almajiri boys into the conventional school system, in order to stem the tide of violence and extremism in the country.
Coalition of groups made the call in the aftermath of escalating violent crimes in the country, urging President Muhammadu Buhari “to actualise President Goodluck Jonathan’s Almajiri integration initiative”.
It was gathered that currently, Adamawa state is home to an estimated 200,000 Almajiri destitute children, most of them coming from neighboring Yobe, Gombe and Bauchi States.
They are part of UNICEF’s annual report on Nigeria, which puts 2,711,767 as the number of almajiris from the North-East, representing 25 per cent of the total 9.5 million Almajiri population in Nigeria.
The implication is that the Almajiri population represents 72 per cent of the country’s 13.2 million out of school children.
Almajiri tutorial system provides exclusive Islamic education to children from age four, who are often separated from their parents at that early age.
Iliyasu Usman, Project Manager of ‘Almajiris Is Also A Child’, made the appeal while launching an advocacy for the vulnerable children in Yola on Saturday.
He said Yola was chosen to kick start the advocacy due to its large numbers of Almajiri tutorial system. At the launch, over 500 Almajiris attended and went home with a bathroom slippers each.
He further noted that his group embarked on the campaign in view of the direct involvement of “Almajiris in the alarming rate of violent extremism”.
However, with the advent of extremism, the Almajiris system has been identified as manpower source for none state armed groups like Boko Haram and other criminal gangs.
Besides, Usman, argued that Almajiris who are victims of social neglect, are also vulnerable to drug related offenses, as well as opened to exploitation by evil elements.
Usman expressed optimism that addressing the Almajiri menace will go a long way in depleting the manpower base of Boko Haram and other violent groups.
Only recently, ‘Shilla-Boys’, a local terror group which specialized in petty theft, like bag snatching, was tauted as being notorious for recruiting Almajiris into their ranks.