IN RECENT weeks, there have been news of interception of forcefully moved homeless children (almajiri) in some northern states to several states of Nigeria.
ON MIDNIGHT last Sunday, reports indicate that Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State ordered arrest and revert of lorry loads of about 120 of such children trying to enter his state through Gakem, a border town with Benue State.
THE almajiri, packed in two trucks were intercepted by the state’s joint taskforce team on COVID-19 and according to reports, the incidents of Sunday’s midnight was the third batch in a row to be ordered back to where they came from in a space of one week.
BUT worrisome too is that most vehicle loads of persons intercepted while making such forays into states as Enugu, Anambra, Abia and other states were mainly full grown adults.
WHAT this suggests is that there could be a deliberate sponsorship of youths and boys not just in their states of origin but to other states that do not practice the almajiri system despite federal government’s ban on inter-state movements to prevent the spread of the novel corona virus.
IT WILL be recalled that over 50 almajiri evacuated from Kano to Kaduna tested positive to coronavirus with another 16 and eight cases from same group, identified in Jigawa and Gombe States, respectively.
BASED on this, it could be reasoned that the movement of almajiri to other states could spread COVID-19 to states that do not hitherto have it. Should it be a deliberate attempt to ensure that some states spread their burdens to others amid coronavirus pandemic?
FOR avoidance of doubt, National Light Newspaper supports the decision to abolish the almajiri system because a scheme that encourages parents not to care for their wards and keeps children out of school is dangerous to society and economy.
But the current approach in the abolition is not only poorly timed, it is hasty, disruptive and dangerous to society. Indeed, it is a good thing that the northern governors have finally realised that the archaic system is completely out of tone with contemporary society’s reality.
IN FACT, the decision to abolish the almajiri system is one good and remarkable thing the novel coronavirus brought to Nigeria. We commend them for taking the bold steps to dismantle the system as it has not in any way helped the children of the system or the larger society.
But the idea of smuggling them into other states including those that may not be the home states of the children is highly condemnable on its own, not to talk of this period of COVID-19 when the federal government banned all inter-states travels.
THE ideal thing should have been for the governors of the respective states where the children are found to quarantine them where they are, get those already infected of corornavirus treated and strategise on how to give them formal education or skills.
Better still, they should have been assimilated or reintegrated in the states where they are since most of them do not really know their states of origin, much less; talking of their families, instead of sending them out to where they would roam and keep spreading the disease.
THE way the evacuation is being done now makes it suspicious. Some deem it a political ploy, reasoning that if it is not a political game or any other hidden agenda, they would not be sneaked into states that have nothing to do with almajiri system even with the ban on interstates travels. The fact that they are mostly youths and adults instead of normal almajiri children in the truckloads also raise its own suspicion.
WHATEVER is the case, the truth is that moving them to other states, particularly southern states who were not part of the northern governors’ resolution on almajiri at this point in time is incomprehensible and worrisome.
WE URGE individuals, groups and states to be more vigilant and do all they can to avoid importation of health crises through possible spread of the virus by identifying those sneaked into their states and sending them back before it is too late.
IT IS our belief that the war against coronavirus must be won hence we must check the influx of almajiri to other states, even their states of origin. Those infected should be treated where they are presently residing.
WE MUST not in trying to run away from the danger of COVID-19, run into a more dangerous situation.