Ban on Almajiri not immediate — Presidency 

The Presidency has affirmed that though the abrogation of the Almajiri system of education remained the ultimate objective of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, there is no immediate ban of the Qur’anic learning system associated with begging in some Northern states.

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, on Thursday, unveiled the plan to proscribe the system as a way to prevent the accumulation of a large mass of human beings who end up becoming criminals.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Friday by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President

(Media & Publicity), the Presidency called for caution in responses to the pronouncements by President Buhari on free and compulsory basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age in Nigeria, during his speech on Thursday, June 20, at the inauguration of the National Economic Council (NEC).

It noted that while the Buhari administration was committed to free and compulsory education as a long-term objective of bringing to an end, the phenomenon of out-of-school children, any necessary ban on Almajiri would follow due process and consultation with relevant authorities.

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The statement stressed that indeed, the Federal government wanted a situation where every child of primary school age was in school rather than begging on the streets during school hours.

“At the same time, we don’t want to create panic or a backlash,” the Presidency stated.

The statement added: “Reports that there are plans for the massive arrest of parents are definitely out of place. Things have to be done the right and considerate way.

“Free and compulsory primary school education is a requirement of the Nigerian constitution and any individual or group not in compliance with this is violating the law of the land and liable to be punished.

In his speech at the inauguration of NEC, President Buhari stated, without equivocation, that the country’s children have rights and must be given their due rights and protection under the law.

“As many have stated in their views, the Almajiri phenomenon represents a security challenge and a scar on the face of Northern Nigeria,” the further said.

The statement recalled Buhari’s In that speech, in which he said: “On education, I want to stress in particular the need to take very seriously and enforce very rigorously the statutory provisions on free and compulsory basic education. Section 18(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended places on all of us here an obligation to eradicate illiteracy and provide free and compulsory education.

“Section 2 of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act provides that every Government in Nigeria shall provide free, compulsory and universal basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age.

‘‘It is indeed a crime for any parent to keep his child out of school for this period. In my view, when a government fails to provide the schools, teachers and teaching materials necessary for basic education, it is actually aiding and abetting that crime.

“This is, therefore, a call to action. I would like to see every Governor rise from this meeting and rally his local Government Chairmen towards ensuring that our schools offer the right opportunities and provide the needed materials and teachers for basic education, at the minimum.

‘‘If we are able to do this, the benefits will surely manifest themselves.”

According to the Presidency, this statement by President Buhari was well within the law of Nigeria.

It pointed out that in addition to relevant consultations, State governors needed to put in place structures like schools and educational materials for pupils; “otherwise, they also, are complicit in violating the law of the land.”