Former governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha, yesterday, flayed northern governors over rejection of almajiri system. According to him, VIPs in the north, at present, are products of the almajiri system. Okorocha, who represents Imo West senatorial district in the Senate, spoke in an interview with BBC Hausa Service monitored in Kaduna.
He said the northern governors had been unfair in their dealings with the almajirai, who they described as urchins. Okorocha said: “These children (almajirai) need help, educate them and give them jobs. Who knows, one of them could be a president some day. “The governors and other rich individuals should help transform the almajiri system of Islamic education, instead of subjecting them to humiliation. Many of our prominent people now were once almajirai.’’ Okorocha said the system was not the problem but hunger and poverty, adding that almajiri children need love and care like other children in the society.
Origin of almajiri system He said: “The system had its origin from the migration of Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. ‘’When he migrated from Mecca, some people followed him in search of knowledge and they were catered for. They were not left hungry, they were fed.’ Okorocha reiterated that the abandoned children needed care, while the system should be reformed by all.
He added: “Some of us have excess that we don’t need, channel such towards enhancing the living standard of such children. They are our children.” He said Okorocha Foundation had established schools in Kano, Yola, Zaria and Sokoto with the sole aim of providing education to the almajirai. The northern governors had in the wake of outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria, expressed dismay over the almajiri system and had repatriated the children to their various states of origin for fear of the spread of the disease.
Rising from one of its meetings last month, the Northern Governors Forum, under the leadership of Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, resolved to put an end to the almajiri system and have the children sent to their states of origin for proper parental care. Echoing the decision of the governors, Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, said it was a subject of deep deliberations of the governors in the region for the past 12 months. “We’ve been looking for the ways and means to end this system because it has not worked for the children, it has not worked for Northern Nigeria and it has not worked for Nigeria. So, it has to end and this is the time,” he said. He said his state had been expanding the capacities of schools in Kaduna with the hope of accommodating the subsequent integration of the children as the best alternative for them.