There is no doubt that the world has been thrown into a state of confusion with the outbreak of Covid-19. To this end, there have been discourses on finding lasting solution to the scourge, as it affects world safety and socio-economic stability.
Regrettably, the emerging crisis has conspired to ensure that many people, already suffering citizen are robbed of their source of livelihood. In fact, concerns are mounting about how citizens and residents of different countries will survive the economic downturn occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Fortunately, the under privileged and vulnerable individuals in the society have gained sympathy due to their unfortunate situation. However, another set of persons whose plights should be critically looked into are the almajiri. These are the people I believe need more sympathy and attention at this critical time.
No doubt, in Nigeria, many states, especially in the North, have tried to educate people about the abuse of the word “Almajirici”, but this has come with little success. A period like this brings us to sober reflection on how the almajiri children are surviving.
For example, if you happen to visit some core northern states like Kano, Sokoto, Katsina, Kaduna, Borno and even Niger, you will see young children of perhaps seven to 13 years with plates begging for survival. In some other situations, you will notice same people eating from the droppings or leftovers at restaurants, which are seen as no ‘big deal’.
Although efforts in the past to take these vulnerable children off the streets met brick wall mounted by elites who wrongly see “Almajirici” as a culture, albeit practised the wrong way.
Nevertheless, in the face of Covid-19, where people have been restricted to their homes, and there is no one to beg for survival or restaurant to eat droppings from, our concerns should be: Where are these kids now? How are they surviving now? Where are they sheltering?
One wonders how many of the elites, whose kids do not practise this same ‘culture’ by begging on the streets or eating remnants from restaurants remained the “antagonists” against the genuine efforts to abolish or ‘modernise’ Almajirici system.
With the increasing education rate in the North, it is alarming why bigwigs who are elites do not have a united voice to say that enough is enough for Almajirici.
As a matter of fact, the survival of the children cannot be solved by the purported distribution of Social Investment Programme (SIP) funds also known as the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) to households as being practised by the central government. No, it cannot. The peculiar question one should ask is how do you give Almajirici children money or food when they do not have households that can be traced?
Therefore, the raging pandemic has given us the opportunity for sober reflections. We need to redefine the kind of almajiri movement we want. Truth be told, we want the legacy of spreading Islam with the best practices to develop, but we must at same time be wary of not doing so rightly by making their socio-economic wellbeing a reality.