The African Action Congress (AAC)’s Presidential Candidate, Omoyele Sowore, and his running mate, Haruna Magashi have promised that children, particularly those in the northern part of the country commonly known as “Almajiri” would not be seen on the streets again begging if they are elected into power in the 2023 general elections.

The AAC presidential flag bearer and his vice said this on Friday during a presidential town hall meeting organised by Original Daria Media Concept.

Sowore and Magashi assured that the AAC administration would establish a system that would ensure every child is taken back to the class for the socioeconomic development of the country.

As of October 2022, about 20 million children are out of school in Nigeria, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). This figure is a far-reaching increase from the 10.5 million recorded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2020.

“I will urge Nigerians to read our manifestoes. There is something very important that we have not talked about but we don’t have time; something that is sticking in the northern part of Nigeria; that is the ‘Almajiri’ system. We have a very vast, versatile and workable framework for the Almajiri system to work. I assure the northerners that if we get into power there would not be Almajiri that would be begging. We would separate that aspect of Almajiri that are studying religious knowledge and the begging,” the AAC Vice Presidential candidate, Magashi, said.

Meanwhile, Sowore expatiated, “You know the meaning of Almajiri is somebody who travelled to seek knowledge; not somebody who begs; so he’s very clever now but Nigerians have seen the difference. I’m glad that I ran in 2019 and I wish you elected me and did not select somebody who didn’t win the election to lead you.

“This time around, we’re looking forward to credible free and fair elections and we hope having heard from us, those of you who are undecided now know who the right person is to lead this country to liberty on the ballot.”

Whereas in Northern Nigeria, around 8.5 million children attend Islamic schools. Kano State has roughly 300,000 almajirai residents. According to a recent report during the COVID 19 lockdown, the administration of Kano State disclosed that it cannot care for over 5 million almajiri in the state and thus initiated the process of deporting the boys back to their respective areas of origin. Some other northern governments followed suit, citing the youngsters’ potential as easy spreaders of the dangerous coronavirus in northern Nigeria. Northern Nigeria accounts for about 69% of Nigeria’s 13.4 million school-age population.

The almajiri system in Nigeria is very contentious. The institution has been chastised for encouraging teenage poverty and crime, failing to teach young boys occupational skills, leaving them unprepared for the workforce, and radicalising boys, making them ideal recruits for gangs and Boko Haram. Others say that the almajiri system helps young boys to be religious, moral citizens who will benefit society.

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