By Stanley Onyekwere
Apparently worried by millions of children exposed to abuse and exploitation at very young ages, some child rights advocates converged in Abuja, to demand more support towards the children caught in the Almajiri phenomenon.
In particular, the advocates who joined youth under the umbrella of Almajiri Child Rights Initiative in their large numbers thronged the popular Unity Fountain in the heart of the nation’s capital city, to make strong case for increased investment in education and public consciousness on the Almajiri system.
To this end, they launched a campaign to collate 13.2 million signatures representing the estimated total number of out-of-school children in Nigeria, in order to amplify advocacy for Almajiri child rights.
This position was made known at the 2nd annual Almajiri Child Rights Day, held at the weekend, organised by Almajiri Rights Initiative to draw and focus attention to one of the world’s most abused sets of children.
Team lead of the Initiative, Mohammed Sabo Keana decried that due to the slow response to the urgency of the crisis, over 10 million Almajiri children will be part of those to be left behind in the quest to eliminate hunger and ensure decent work for all.
Keana explained that it was the reason that theme for the 2019 event is Almajiri Child Rights and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He said: “In marking the inaugural day, we pledged to engage stakeholders, especially actors and benefactors, civil society, Government at all levels as well as the local and International community towards developing and implementing policy that offers a long term solution for returning dignity to the life of the Almajiri child.
“Since then, we have witnessed some level of change in the narrative and a National Child Destitution Bill at the 8th Assembly.
“We call on the Nigerian Government t immediately set up a multi stakeholder task team to come up with a unified position on how to address the social, educational, nutritional, and security situation of the Almajiri child including a medium term enlightenment plan for building consensus with actors and benefactors.”