Former presidential aspirant, Adamu Garba, has said the Almajiri system ubiquitous in northern Nigeria produced some of the richest men in the country including Africa’s pride, Aliko Dangote; as well as the founder of BUA Group, Abdul Samad Rabiu; amongst others.
Garba, who speaking over the weekend, also said he was once an Almajiri before he acquired Western education.
The Almajiri system involves parents sending their wards to live with clerics in order to study the Qu’ran and Islamic tenets. The system has been hugely criticised as the Almajirai often garbed in dirty clothes take to the streets to beg for alms, food and other basic supplies.
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Former Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, amongst other notable Nigerians, have spoken effusively against the Almajiri system in the past. The ex-governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria believed the Almajiri system was one of the factors responsible for the poverty rate and poor literacy level in the northern part of the country.
Some Almajiri students have also been said to be co-opted into banditry and terror groups like Boko Haram by Islamic fundamentalists and ideological radicalists.
But the former presidential aspirant said the Almajiri system was intentionally a noble idea and had produced some affluent personalities in the country.
He, however, lamented what he described as the ‘contamination’ of the entire system by criminal clerics who send the lads out to commit crimes.
When asked whether the Almajiri system promotes terrorism, Garba said Boko Haram has no connection with the Almajiri system because of the dichotomy between Islamic denominations in northern Nigeria. “So, it is very unlikely that you have an Almajiri man becoming a Boko Haram,” he said.
Garba also said the current Almajiri situation in northern Nigeria is a failure of the governors of the region whom he claimed neglected the young Almajirai.
He said, “Young ones who are also citizens of the country are supposed to have good healthcare, they are supposed to have good education, they are supposed to have good attention or support from the government where necessary. The parents are very poor and they believe that one of the things that will liberate their children is carrying them to another place to go and study.