Insecurity – Ex-NIS Boss, Babandede Faults Almajiri Educational System

Mr Babandede described the Almajiri system as a shameful culture in the north, saying the children left uncatered for are those who no longer have mercy for the rich.

The immediate past Comptroller-General (CG) of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, has faulted the continuous practice of the age-long Almajiri system of education in the northern part of Nigeria.

Mr Babandede, who linked the practice to the rising security challenges in some parts of the country, said this in Abuja on Tuesday during the unveiling of “Sure For You Rescue and Resettlement Initiative (SURE 4U),” a non-governmental organisation founded by him.

He said the NGO will focus on the provision of educational and material needs of children on the streets, refugees and deportees from other countries.

Almajiri system

Described as a traditional and non-formal system of Islamic education, the Almajiri system is said to subject its learners to be left in their care of their teachers otherwise known as Mallams.

The Mallams then allow the pupils to roam about the streets begging for alms, food, and sometimes render menial labour to the teachers or members of the public as a means of survival.

This system of education is found mostly in the northern part of Nigeria.

Mr Babandede said Nigeria needs to take care of the children on the streets, soften their hearts and take care of them before they become criminals in the future.

He noted that the security agencies alone cannot solve the security issues currently facing the country, saying such was one of the reasons why he founded the NGO.

Mr Babanded accused Nigerian politicians of enhancing the Almajiri system, saying they have failed to condemn it for political gains.

“Politicians need to stop deceiving us. Because they want votes from the Mallams (teachers at Almajiri schools), they will never criticise the Almajiri system. We are saying that is not the right thing to do,” he said.

He added that SURE 4U will prioritise education of vulnerable children, including Almajiri and orphans, as well as deportees from countries, especially the Middle East.

He said; “Almajiri is a shameful culture in the north. If you can’t say it (because) you are a big man, I am saying it. We cannot allow children to go on the street begging for food with a container which is not washed.

“These are the people who have no mercy for us when they see us on the road, because they have no parental love. Nobody loved them when they were children.

“Law enforcement cannot fight these crimes alone. Civil Societies need to help them. We need to soften the hearts of children now before they become criminals.”

The organisation also unveiled its seven-member Board of Trustees chaired by Usman Kibiya, a former member of the Nigerian senate.

Others on the board include Carol Ndaguba, Habiba Lawal, Garba Baba, Tola Sogbesan, Jamil Shittu and Shamsudeen Muhammad.

Minister speaks

The Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, said the organisation was founded on the same principle that Mr Babandede had worked on since his days at the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and NIS.

Mr Agba, therefore, urged international and donor organisations to provide support for the work of the NGO.

He also called on NGOs to support the government’s fight against terrorism, banditry and all forms of criminality “by ensuring that they do not engage in activities that undermine the country’s sovereignty and national security.”

He said: “The experience garnered by the founder while at NAPTIP and the immigration service will certainly come in handy in meeting the organisation’s objectives.

“Many NGOs find it difficult to garner sufficient and continuous funding for their work. Gaining access to appropriate donors is a major component of this challenge and it is my hope that donor agencies and international partners will collaborate with this promising NGO to achieve these objectives.”

The unveiling was witnessed by the Chief of Naval Staff, Awwal Gambo, and the representatives of the Comptroller-General of NIS, the minister of interior, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the Netherlands and Spain.

In his presentation, a Programme Officer at SURE 4U, Shuaibu Abdullahi, noted that NASCO Foods supported the organisation’s pilot intervention programme at a Tsangaya School in Jahun, Jigawa State between 22 and 23 July.

Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe.

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