A Cleric and Social Activist, Rev. Ladi Thompson, has appealed to government at all levels to initiate policies that are aimed at tackling the almajiri syndrome in Nigeria.
Thompson made the appeal during an interactive session on Monday in Kaduna held on actualising the potential of Nigerian children forced to beg on the streets and public places in order to fend for themselves under the guise of acquiring Qur’an education.
According to him, establishment of feeding centres for the almajiris will go a long way towards discouraging the group of children from going about towns and cities to beg for alms and food.
Thompson, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Non-Violence For African Development (NOVAD), an NGO, said it was urgent and important to address the plight of vulnerable children acquiring Qur’anic education under horrific circumstances.
“If I must confess since 1979 I have been observing almajiri issues, what I am going to do with the issues,” Thompson said.
He said people constituted Nigeria’s most precious resources which should be harnessed for its growth and development rather than natural resources such as petroleum that government was busy prospecting in many states in the country for the riches.
“We must establish it that the most precious and valuable resources a nation has, is its people”, he added.
He further said almajiris was the most important single group in Nigeria and West Africa that carried potentials in terms of its number, adding that the group needed support to give their best.
“ If we don’t invest in their lives, we are creating a wastage that this country will never recover.
“There are things that are important and some are urgent.
“The almajiri issues in Nigeria are most important and urgent to be addressed,”Thompson said
Earlier, Coordinators of NOVAD in the state, Rev. John Hayab and Sheikh Haliru Maraya, said in their separate remarks that proper upbringing of children is a collective responsibility involving parents, government, communities and other relevant stakeholders.
According to them, every child has a potential and should be given access to opportunities to actualise his or her God-given talents.
On his own part, the state Secretary, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Sunday Ibrahim, called for the right empowerment programmes for the almajiris in order to address some of their challenges.
Also speaking the State Secretary of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Malam Ibrahim Kufena, urged parents to take their responsibility seriously by fending for their children placed under the tutelage of an Islamic scholar of their choice.
“Allowing the children jumping around looking for food instead of looking toward education is a serious threat to the society.”
Newsmen report that the NGO provided 50 pairs of clothes, shoes, and four cartons of cream to 50 almajiris at the venue of the interactive session.