A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Niyi Akintola, has berated Northern governors for not addressing the plight of the almajiri children in their states and for the rising cases of interstate deportation of the children.
Akintola spoke in an interview with SaharaReporters on Wednesday.
He was reacting to the legality of the deportation of almajiri children from one state to another in Nigeria which has been on the increase as state governors struggle to contain the spread of Coronavirus.
Almajiri is a system of Islamic education practised in Northern Nigeria and it is also the name for a young boy, who is taught within this system.
Most of the almajiris grow up on the streets without the love, care and guidance of parents.
They are vulnerable to slavery, anti-social activities and crime.
Akintola said, “Moving the almajiri children from one place to the other is in itself a confirmation of the lopsided structure we are operating in the country because if we are operating a proper structure, we wouldn’t have found ourselves in this quagmire. Today, Nigeria is yet to be a nation, it is a country of many nationalities and because of that, each component is trying to protect its territories. Ordinarily, it shouldn’t be.
“The government should be blamed. Education should be made compulsory. But in making it compulsory, it should be institutionalized in the country to the extent that whosoever refuses to send his/her child to school would go to prison.
“No government can deport Nigerians from any state where he or she decides to be but there is a caveat there. The caveat is that in the face of a pandemic, every state government has the power to restrict movement, to confine people to a particular place and a governor can hide under the canopy of Infection Disease Act to restrict movement and confine people to their homes and that was what the president and governors have done in the circumstance.”
Akintola urged the Northern governors to emulate Sir Ahmadu Bello, the late Premier of Northern Nigeria region, by reforming education in their states.
He added, “Most Northern elites would tell you that if not for the Sardauna (Sir Ahmadu Bello), they wouldn’t have been educated, Sardauna jailed parents for three months because they withdrew children from school. The Sarduana spirit should be brought back, if not; those of us in the South would not rest.
“After Governor Sanwo-Olu banned tricycle and motorcycle in Lagos, they moved in trailers to Ibadan, Osogbo, Akure and Ado-Ekiti. Most of the okada riders in Ibadan today are products of almajiri school. Many of them don’t speak another language.
“Until we all pay attention to what is happening in the Northern part of the country in respect of forcing everybody to go to school, we will not get out of the issue of almajiri menace and we are all sitting on a keg of gunpowder if we allow the situation to continue.”