Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The federal government has moved to ban the almajiri system as a way to prevent the accumulation of a large mass of human beings who end up becoming criminals.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Thursday.
With him at the briefing were governors of Ondo and Adamawa states, Rotimi Akeredolu and Ahmadu Fintiri respectively and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
He said there was the need to make education compulsory and free for every child in the country “because the problems we face today are rooted in the fact that a lot of people who have been denied the opportunity basically the opportunity to get formal education end up over the years, there is accumulation of large mass of human beings who end up becoming criminals, drug addicts and so on and so forth, and they end up becoming tools to be used by elements in the wider society who have very dangerous intentions.
“And therefore, it is very important to proscribe certain groups ultimately running around under the guise of maybe getting some kind of education that is not really formal and then begin to cause a lot of problems for society.”
Asked to elaborate, he said: “The group I spoke about on illiteracy is the Almijiri. Ultimately, the government will have to proscribe this Almijiri phenomenon, because we cannot continue to have street urchins, children roaming around, only for them in a couple of years, or decades to become a problem to society.
“We are not saying that they are going to be contained in a manner that you might think we want to do something that is harmful to them, no. What we want to do is to work with the state government to enforce the policy of education for every child. It is every child’s right, his entitlement, so long as he is a Nigerian.
“If you recall what happened in the Western region, I think in the fifties and the sixties, when the Premier made education free and compulsory at both primary and secondary levels. This is what we are looking at.
“Let me tell you something. One of the elements of national power is the population of a country. You don’t just rely on your armed forces, the location and so on and so forth. The population is a very critical element of national power. It is from the population that you get a critical mass.”
The NSA further said:”We are not talking of one child. There are millions of them. So, when we look at population, as an element of national security, don’t be surprised if out of every 100 almajirai, you have two neurologists, four architects, two lawyers, and so on and so forth. If you don’t start thinking short and long term, to overcome this problem, like I told you earlier on, to overcome this problem, you require collective efforts.
“You can’t carry this load and drop it on top of the government. Even the government should not work as a one-legged tripod, it has to be three-legged. We have to deal with the issue of these children, almajirai, regardless of how people feel about it. We must work in sync with the rest of the international communities.
“How many countries operate this kind of system? Let be very, very sincere to ourselves. We have to look at this issue that we have been sweeping under the carpet.
“So, when I briefed the NEC, I alerted them on the dangers of this phenomenon and the President in inaugurating NEC also stressed that we must make education free and compulsory. We are not trying to denigrate any group.”
Monguno also spoke on the $1billion approved by the NEC last December for tackling security challenges in the country, saying that it was meant for the military.
However, he claimed ignorance of whether the money was eventually released or not.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, has denied knowledge of the whereabouts of the $1billion
Asked about the money, he said: “The $1billion I believe that you are talking about was actually earmarked for the military, not for security agencies, like the intelligence community and the paramilitary agencies.
“It was earmarked for the military. As much as I know, whether it was given to them, I really don’t know.”