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The Muslim Rights Concern has on Wednesday, 2nd January, 2019 warned Northern leaders against the derision plan of the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Rev. Fr. Mathew Kukah, to train 10 million almajiri children in Northern Nigeria.
This is contained in a statement issued on Wednesday by Professor Ishaq Akinola who claimed that Kukah’s initiave is a means to rob Muslims of their Faith just like the colonial masters did in the West during colonialism. He described Kukah’s proposal as a ploy for proselytisation, modern colonialism and a potential time bomb.
The statement partly reads: “We all agree that something must be done about the almajiri children. We can welcome ideas from everyone but the implementation must be in the hands of Muslims in the region. Any other thing will make the intention questionable. We cannot pretend to be so naïve as to entrust our Muslim children to the hands of Christian gospellers. As far as we are concerned, Kukah’s almajiri dream is a Trojan horse.”
“These children have teachers even if the system is unconventional. The parents entrusted them to the teachers and learning still takes place somehow. The devil we know is still better than the one we do not know and we expect Rev. Kukah to know better. Can any Christian community allow an Islamic organization to take their children away just like that? What is the fate of the children taken from Chibok to an Edo IDP centre in 2014?
“Whatever the situation may be, we wish to caution Northern Muslims, particularly the elders, never to allow it to happen. Instead of allowing Christian missionaries to seize this kind of initiative, Northern Muslims should empower available Muslim NGOs to cater for almajiri children.
“We know from experience that whatever happens will be a point of reference in the near future. Who will bear the shame at that time? We therefore advise state governments in the region to rearrange their priorities and concentrate on the education and welfare of almajiri children.
“One indisputable fact is that almajiri is essentially a system practiced by northern Muslims. It is not part of Christendom from North to South. Is Rev. Kukah telling us that he prefers to alleviate poverty among Muslims to doing same among Christians? Is he telling us that he loves to assist Muslims more than he loves to help Christians? Can Rev. Kukah give any guarantee that those children will remain the same at the end of his intervention? It is modern colonialism.
“When did the reverend father suddenly develop so much love for Muslims that he has now decided to give them preference above his Christian folks? Are there no poverty stricken children in the Christian majority Middle Belt particularly in Benue and Plateau? Why can’t he take his project there? This type of project demands trust. No NGO can successfully train children or adults in an atmosphere of mutual distrust.
“Another question has to do with funding. Who will fund this gigantic project? Our guess is that the fund will come (or has come) from one of those foreign donors. We are sure it cannot be the Nigerian government. This raises another major concern. The foreign donors and agencies are most likely to be from the West.
“Incidentally, Western donors are known for their preference for supporting Christian-oriented non-governmental organizations (NGOs). They dish out huge amounts of money to non-Muslim NGOs while Islamic organizations get pittance, and that is if they get anything at all. That is not to say we are blaming them. We have no moral right to do so.”