Written by George Umeh
9 May 2020
For decades, lovers of Nigeria in general and the North in particular have been advising the northern elites to do away with the Almajiranci system. Such advice is predicated on the negative consequences of using such dehumanizing approach to raise human beings. The system is simply akin to a time bomb-only waiting to detonate.
For quite obvious reasons albeit incomprehensible to me, the north has held on to that practice. The Elites use the almajiris for their selfish gains. They use them chiefly for political purposes: to cause mayhem when political outcomes don’t favour them. Equally, the almajiris are used for farm work to the economic advantage of the users. For these quite obvious reasons, the Almajiri system has been thriving in Northern Nigeria despite its dehumanizing nature.
Human beings are like computers: what you give them is what they give back to you. The almajiris are not giving any training befitting of human beings. They are just inches away from the wild animal kingdom. Their reasoning is not nurtured; their minds not disciplined; their actions not tamed. They act on impulse and instinct, and at best, on instructions. There is no room in their brains for consideration of the rationality or otherwise of any action.
At the wake of the Corona Virus in Nigeria, the federal government and some (especially southern) state governors began taking some proactive measures to contain the virus. Most southern state successively went on partial lockdown. Citizens were properly and adequately sensitized on the dangers of the virus while vigorously educating on preventive measures. While all those went on, the news carried it that Northern Governors refused to lockdown their states giving reasons that their citizens are all farmers and should be allowed to go about their farming business. It was only a matter of time and the virus landed in the North.
In the midst of the global fear of the virus and consequent strict adherence to the stringent preventive measures, those deformed Almajiris in viral videos were seen washing their hands and drinking the water daring the virus to come that they were battle ready. Expectedly, within twinkle of an eye, the virus landed the north in full capacity: to the domain of the common man as it was only among the dwellings of the elites initially.
Characteristic of the North with diseases, it began hitting them harder than any other region save for Lagos. In a matter of days, scores of people began dying mysteriously in Kano and the progression rate was geometric. The same Almajiri boys who dared the virus and led inhuman lifestyle became the worst hit. Majority of them became carriers and were progressively dying like fowl.
Fearing the impeding danger and doom, the northern authorities began what they called “repatriation” of the Almajiri to their home states. This action has seen many truckloads of Almajiri being smuggled into many southern states: an action many including me interpret as a ploy to deliberately infect the south with the virus. The media is awash with such report as:
1.Tuesday, 5th May, Abia State commissioner for information reported that they intercepted a truckload of about 100 Almajirai at their border and ordered them back
2.State Security Adviser of Cross River state reported on Thursday 7th May that they intercepted 5 truckloads of Almajirai coming into the state from the North
3.Friday, 9th May, Vigilante men at the Udenu LGA border of Enugu State nabed 9 truckload of over 300 almajirai being smuggled into the state from the north.
This terrifying statistics is just within one week. Surely, more will follow in the weeks ahead. This therefore calls for very proactive and drastic measures to be taken by the southern state governors and authorities. The southern governors must ensure that the lives of their citizens are being protected. They must enusure that nobody brings in any Almajirai to the southern states.
It is common knowledge that our uniformed security men highly compromise at the borders. Our governors should not bank on them. They should beef up internal security and use all means and every force within them to resist and prevent importation of potential carriers of CCOVID 19 to their states. It will be a challenging task as it calls for eternal vigilance but it is the only price commensurate for security.
In my home state of Ebonyi, our governor has been most proactive. We passionately continue to enjoin him to maintain the status quo. I have severally defended him on social media when people say that if the truckloads of Almajiri were intercepted at Ebonyi borders, he wouldn’t have ordered them back as other governors did because of his soft spot for and affinity with the north. Your Excellency, please prove them wrong and prove me right should (God forbid) any such attempt is made to smuggle them into Ebonyi.
Now is the time for people to take responsibility for their actions and the Northern elites, the sponsors of the Almajiris should enjoy the dividend of their hard labour for in Ngbo we say okpa ugbu nyaru ugbue!
Ekelem unu! I greet you all!
By Lawrence Njoku (Enugu), Segun Olaniyi, Msugh Ityokura,Kanayo Umeh (Abuja), Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna) and Joseph Wantu (Makurdi)
8th May 2020
A truck full of herdsmen was stopped before arriving in Lagos at the Ojodu-Berger in Lagos, on May 4, 2020, from Zamfara and Kano State, the epicentre of coronavirus in northern Nigeria. Kano, with around 12 million people, is the second most populous state in Nigeria. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on May 1, 2020, said the number of recorded infections across Kano rose to 219, up from 77 at the start of the week. Kano has in recent days seen a spate of high-profile deaths including academics, bureaucrats, businessmen and traditional leaders. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP
Ohanaeze, IPOB, others blow hot as states turn back busloads
Police deny complicity, blame recalcitrant drivers
Presidential task force knocks security agencies on travel restriction
The Enugu State government yesterday intercepted and turned back nine busloads of almajirai following a failed attempt to sneak them into the state.
Dislodged from the North, as governors in the region moved urgently to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, reports of the pupils trying to find new havens in the South have been prevalent.
Security operatives alongside council chairmen and youths stopped about three hundred of the pupils around the Enugu-Benue boundaries, particularly at Udenu, Igbo-Eze North and Nsuka Local Government Area.
Abia State had on Tuesday said it intercepted some buses bringing in about 100 almajirai into the state. The Commissioner for Information John Okiyi said the travellers were turned back because a presidential order banning inter-state transport was still in force. He added that the state’s Ministry of Homeland Affairs had been mobilised to beef up security at the boundaries.
President Muhammadu Buhari had recently imposed a restriction on inter-state trips to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The order had also coincided with the relocation of almajirai by several Northern states.
A statement by the Enugu State government yesterday disclosed that similar operations aimed at preventing infiltration and enforcing the ban on inter-state transport were ongoing at the Enugu-Abia boundary and Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway.
Mr. Philip Nwazi, who is the new Divisional Police Officer in charge of Udenu Local Government Council, explained that some offending vehicles in the area were intercepted and impounded between 11:00 p.m. (Tuesday) and 3:00 a.m. (Wednesday).
Nwazi said some of the intercepted vehicles had emerged from forests as their drivers tried to beat the restriction order.He said they were promptly turned back to serve as a deterrent to would-be violators.
The Chairman of Udenu Council Solomon Onah said the local administration was fully mobilised and working round the clock to ensure that the restrictions by the state and Federal Government were complied with.
Also, the Cross River State government yesterday reportedly turned back five truckloads of almajirai and other passengers from the North.
State Security Adviser Alfred Mboto was quoted as saying: “We got a report from our security and task force teams at the Garkem border town yesterday night that trucks carrying a large number of children from the north, alleged to be almajirai, were intercepted after a thorough check and have been turned back.”
In a scenario underscoring the desperation to relocate the almajirai from the North, the Benue State’s COVID-19 Action Committee Wednesday night intercepted 14 almajirai who were allegedly being smuggled into the state.
Reacting to the movement of almajirai to the South, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, urged governors of the region to boost security at their boundaries to prevent entry by unauthorised persons.
Deputy National Publicity Secretary Mazi Chucks Ibegbu described the situation as an “attempt to flood some Igbo states with almajirai.” He insisted: “The Satanic act must not be allowed.”
In a statement, Emma Powerful, spokesman for Igbo group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) said: “It is no longer hidden that COVID-19 is currently ravaging Kano and other parts of the North. Instead of locking down to stem the spread as was done by all states in the East, Northern leaders opened their borders and allowed the free movement of their people, many of who have become infected with the virus. Now, they intend to infect the rest of us under the guise of relocating almajirai. We won’t allow this evil plot as no almajiri is from the East.”
Another Igbo organisation, South East Revival Group (SERG), said: “A total lockdown of eastern borders is necessary to avoid needless deaths in the region because we are at war with a global pandemic that has continued to claim lives in thousands in countries with sophisticated health systems and facilities.”
Addressing a press conference yesterday, SERG President Chief Willy Ezugwu said: “There have been several reports of inter-state travelling from the North. A trailer-load of almajirai was intercepted in Abia State last week while another trailer and some buses loaded with the same almajirai were also intercepted by vigilance community leaders at Opi in Nsukka two days ago.
“They pass through Kogi and Benue States undetected by security agents. Some security agencies in the region, like in many highways in Nigeria, take bribes to allow these buses and trailers to pass, contrary to a Federal Government directive.”
He added: “It is yet to be determined why these almajirai are trooping into the South East. But we suspect that it is either they are fleeing the North because of the increasing cases (of COVID-19) or they are being deliberately sent to the South East to infect the people of the region.”
But responding to questions about police operations as busloads of almajirai pass, Force Public Relations Officer DCP Frank Mba said:
“We have situations where a few recalcitrant persons have tried to break the law. But the good thing is that we have always caught up with them at the end of the day. Most of the persons who set out to break the rule don’t drive through the major ways. They go through uncharted routes. They go through bush paths. But whenever they finally turn to the major highways, we always arrest them.”
He added: “We have done excellently well in our efforts to enforce the ban on inter-state movement. However, at a few monitored inter-state highways, you will certainly see some vehicles moving. The bulk of the vehicles you see plying the inter-state highways are those that fall within the categories of vehicles permitted on those roads.”
Mba’s assurances came as the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 yesterday complained about lapses in enforcing restrictions aimed at containing the pandemic.
“We urge the various commands of the security agencies to enhance their monitoring machinery to ensure that we do not only achieve the objective of stopping the spread of the virus but also prevent the good name of the services from being tarnished,” said PTF chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
“Reports across the country show that they (vehicles) continue to hide passengers with the intention of ferrying them across state boundaries and continual transportation of almajirai across state borders is still evident,” he added.
Source: The Guardian