Hundreds of almajiri have returned to the streets, months after northern state governors banned them from begging in their states.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, some Northern state governors spent millions evacuating almajirai to their home states and some outrightly banned the almajirci practice.
However, despite the confusion relocating the almajirai generated among state governors, many children are seen in their numbers, in tattered clothes and with begging bowls in the streets of Zuba, Bauchi, Lafia, Kano and Kaduna.
Our correspondent in Bauchi observed an increasing number of almajirai at different markets, motor parks, petrol stations, local food joints and prominent junctions in the state capital particularly Wunti Roundabout, where they spend the day begging for alms.
Almajirai were also seen on major roads, streets, and popular junctions begging for food and money, a situation that exposes them to traffic and other dangers.
Recall that the Bauchi State Government had last year repatriated hundreds of almajirai to their states of origin and received another set from neighbouring states who were reunited with their parents.
Surajo Hamza, 13, was repatriated to his village in Sheme, Lere LGA in Kaduna State. He returned to Bauchi two weeks ago.
“Our Malam, Malam Sani, went to our village two weeks ago and brought us back to Bauchi,” he said. “I was among hundreds of almajirai who were repatriated from Bauchi State to our state of origin.”
Yusuf Rabe, 10, from Dagolo village in Katsina State is now an almajiri at Unguwar Kurmi in Bauchi metropolis.
“It was my brother who brought me back to Bauchi six weeks ago to Alaramma school in Unguwar Kurmi. I don’t know why they brought me back to Bauchi because I was taken back to my parents,” he said.
A resident, Garba Mohammed, said that the state government was not sincere about its ban of the almajiri system because, “There is no practical step to monitor the implementation of the ban, neither is there an arrangement to enforce the ban. Any filling station you enter in the metropolis you see these children chasing you for alms.”
The Bauchi State Commissioner of Religious Affairs and Community Relation, Ado Sarkin Aska Zigau, when contacted on phone declined to comment and insisted on a face-to-face encounter.z
However, the Commissioner of Education, Dr Aliyu Usman Tilde said that the government is aware of the return of the almajirai and a committee is at work to find solutions to the challenge.