By Gbade Ogunwale
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has called for the integration of Almajiri children in Northern Nigerian into Western education system. Jonathan, who made the call in Abuja on Tuesday, said many of the Almajiri children have mental capacity to become professionals in various fields if given the opportunity. He got an ally in Kano State Governor Abdullah Ganduje, who admitted the Almajiri as a big problem to the North.
According to him, the social problems associated with Almajiri cannot be enumerated, saying they held foundation and recruitment base for Boko Haram. “There is no doubt Boko Haram succeeded in Nigeria because they have foundation, a recruitment base in the Almajiri, who are hugely indoctrinated,”Ganduje said. The duo spoke at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja, during the presentation of a book in honour of the former president.
Stating that education drives his leadership philosophy, Jonathan said this passion informed the establishment of Almajiri schools across the states in the north by his administration. He said: “We need to elevate the Almajiri from their present level. If we leave them the way they are, it’s going to cause a lot of problems for us. “Some of them need to be exposed to Western education because as a nation, you will medical doctors, neurosurgeons, molecular biologists, open heart surgeons and what have you. “Some of them have the brains to do all this but without exposing them to western education, we can’t harvest the gains.”
The former president charged leaders to define their leadership philosophy, saying that it was not in his character to rate any leader by the infrastructure they build while in office. He said: “I don’t assess any leader; President or Governor by the infrastructure they build. I asses leaders based on their philosophy of leadership. The best way to assess any leader is through his philosophy of leadership. “It is good to build basic infrastructure but the vision of the leader matters. My philosophy was to change the Nigerian society through education but I am not saying that my philosophy is the best.”
At the presentation were governors Udom Emmanuel (Akwa-Ibom); Bala Mohammed (Bauchi); Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar and former Special Duties minister Tanimu Turaki, among others.