Muslim ruler calls for family planning, says Almajiris increase extreme poverty in Nigeria


By Muizat Hameed


Mr. Muhammad Sanusi, the Emir of Kano, has on Thursday said minimizing the number of children given birth to by a family is a positive way to curbing “almajiri” and other social vices.

He mentioned this while giving a speech at the opening ceremony of the annual Islamic Vacation course (IVC), organized by the Muslim students’ society of Nigeria (MSSN) Zone B, held at IVC permanent Camp in Ogun state.

He noted that the almajiri challenge in the Northern area is not a religious concern, but a social issue which needs urgent attention.

The almajiri challenge which he indicated to have occurred as a result of children who are not in school and who are sent to Islamic clerics to live and learn Quranic knowledge, but end up begging on the street or doing menial jobs to earn a living .

“If we continue this way, about forty percent extremely poor people will be in Nigeria. Poverty In the southwest is twenty percent, in the North, it is eighty percent, Lagos is eight percent and in Zamfara, it is ninety one percent,” said the Emir while maintaining that all children out of school should be enrolled back in school.

He advised that men should only marry the number of women they can cater for successfully.

He further said, “Instead of having many children, why not have the ones you can cater for? These are the fundamental questions we should ask ourselves. Most of these children roaming about the streets will be adult in the next 20 years and they will be the ones recruited as politicians in the next 20 years, if we don’t take good care of them now.”

He concluded by saying “this is my own advice that we most look at. These are not religious issues; they are social issues that need to be addressed.”

In Nigeria, the word “Almajiri” means those who left their villages or town, parents, relations, and friends in search of Islamic religious knowledge and scholarship.

Scholars like AbdulQadir A. I. (2003) believe that the British colonial master caused the deterioting lifestyle of northern Nigerian children, who have become a victim of the infected Almajiri traditional education system.

“In 1904, when the British invaded and colonized Northern Nigeria, they manned the treasury and abolished state funding of Almajiri school system, which they saw as mere religious schools. “Boko”, meaning western education, was introduced and funded instead. This development made Islamic scholars unqualified for employment and participation in politics. This further increased the poverty situation, as Mallams (Teachers) lost their jobs because of lack of western education (the only criteria for white-collar jobs) which was only available for educated individuals. With the loss of support from the government, the helpless Emirs and increasing number of students to cater for, the care of the Almajiri became overwhelmingly burdensome for Mallams who were left with no choice but to send these young pupils out to beg for alms,” says AbdulQadri in his essay titled “The Almajiri System of Education in Nigeria today”.

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