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Almajiri fuelling insecurity, insurgency in northern Nigeria, says Onaiyekan

  A former Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, Cardinal John Onaiyekan on Saturday blamed the worsening tempo of insecurity, especially in...


A former Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, Cardinal John Onaiyekan on Saturday blamed the worsening tempo of insecurity, especially in Northern Nigeria on the Almajiri system, saying it had failed the region.


He also expressed concern that young boys who had been abandoned by their parents have ended up as bandits and Boko Haram terrorists.


Onaiyekan stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja during the premiere of a movie titled, ‘The Oratory’, produced by a Catholic Priest, Dr. Cyril Odia, to raise awareness on the predicament of street children in society.


He said, “This question of abandoned children is not new. It has been in the world almost from time immemorial. It is just that nowadays, in this age and year 2021, there ought not to be any more abandoned children.


“We have a major issue right now in the North about the Almajiri system. These are young boys, mainly those who have been abandoned by their respective parents. We know that many of them end up as Boko Haram terrorists.


“Right now, where are all the criminals coming from? Go to Kuje prison and find out the ages of the people who end up in jail. For those who are now insurgents and bandits, information reaching us is that many of the heads of those bandits are all young people, because of the way they have been trained. So, it shows immediately, and you don’t have to wait for 10 or 20 years to see the implications of not doing anything to tackle the menace of street children.


According to him, Northern leaders should be concerned about millions of young people in the region who never went through school.


The Cardinal said, “10 years ago, these youths were children, but today they are teenagers and young men who have no skill of any sort, and they are ready to be recruited to do anything.


“Today, we are already facing it, and if we say that security is very difficult, this is one of the reasons why. It is not too late if we decide to work seriously about it.”


Onaiyekan stressed the need for all hands to be on deck while urging the government to collaborate with the church and parents to check the menace.


 “It’s not only the children of the rich people who deserve to be alive, the children of the poor also have a future. Some of the poor children of today can be important people tomorrow. I think the film has made the case very strongly and very clearly.


“The film has brought in the religious aspects because, in many of these things, you need to have a religious enthusiasm.


“I am happy that the work of the Salesians of Don Bosco is brought to the highlight in this film. Of course, they are not the only ones that are looking after abandoned youths and children, but they specialise in this because of their founder Don Bosco who spent most of his time looking after abandoned children,” he said.


Odia said the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria was in the millions.


He said, “The attempt of this movie is to call for action. As Salesians, we believe in faith in action. If we don’t multiply that effect and get more partners to come on board, we can foresee that there is going to be a disaster. The more young people are increasing on the street, the more the threat of insecurity.


“The movie has received a very positive and heartwarming response from two categories of viewers. For some viewers, the positive ending of the story confirms the desire for good to always overcome evil especially in the light of modern-day Christian persecution.


“For other viewers, the movie gives hope about the Catholic mission to young and poor people who often have little or no hope in politicians. Many got validation of the idea that religion has a lot of capacity to bring about social change.”

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