By Abdu Abdullahi
Sir: Since the outbreak of Covid-19, northern governors seems to have been competing with one another in the deportation or repatriation of hundreds of ‘alien’ almajiris to their states of origin.
The frantic move, in their calculations, is a viable option to halt the spread of the pandemic. Unfortunately, the hasty, dehumanising and uncoordinated manner with which these innocent and vulnerable kids are being transported is merely a demonstration of the deep-seated negative attitude and social apathy towards the almajiri.
Over the years, successive governments have failed to demonstrate the political will to save the almajiri from social decadence. He has not been given the socio-economic protection he rightly deserves to avert the social repulsion and exploitation he is currently experiencing.
At the same time, Nigerians have been living under the illusion that the problem will solve itself without the government intervention. Now, it has dawned that the almajiri, rather than turn out successful Quranic students have since been graduating products increasingly perceived as threats to society.
Not seeing himself as someone who will look up to the authorities either for help or to gain confidence, the almajiri now feels that the government actually despises him, hence he’s being kicked around like a ball.
It is unfortunate that the governors chose to seize this opportunity of Covid-19 crisis to deal with the crisis. Expelling the almajiris from one state to another like commodities and in the midst of the pandemic can only further alienate these unfortunate citizens.
That they are scapegoated for a disease that they neither understand nor in accord with their psychological disposition makes it worse.
A formidable forum is needed at this time to champion the matter of the almajirai. The almajiri deserves respect and the right to the dignity of his person, not a usurpation of his right to attain a decent social life.
It is therefore incumbent on the northern governors to put up a comprehensive and well-designed plan to ameliorate the lingering crisis of the almajiri as against the current ad hoc, impromptu solution being proffered.
The current challenges should serve as an eye opener for the governors to heed the constant warnings about the danger of neglecting of the almajiri and what they pose to themselves and the larger society.
If the governors successfully mobilise the political will to deal with the current storm as indeed the problems of the almajiris, posterity will accord them a well-befitting place.
Ringim, Jigawa State.
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