By Aderogba George
Some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called on the Federal Government to invest substantial resources in the Almajiri and Out-Of-School children commission that was recently signed into law.
The CSOs at a news conference on Thursday in Abuja stated that investing in the commission would help to reduce out-of-school children challenges the country was facing.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that President Muhammadu Buhari, the immediate past president, had on May 28, 2023 signed into law a bill seeking the establishment of the commission.
Mr Hamzat Lawal, the Chief Executive of Connected Development, a CSO, particularly called on the Federal Government to invest part of the savings from the subsidy removal in the commission.
“We must invest in these children to guarantee the future of the country.
“Young people are the ones who can make the country achieve the much needed human capital to drive the economy.”
Lawal said that investing in the commission would be crucial toward meeting up with some of the components of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“With the subsidy removal, Nigeria will be saving a lot of money.
“We must make judicious use of this savings; we want part of this to be invested on the Almajiri and out-of-school children commission,” he said.
Mr Mohammed Keana, Executive Director, Almajiri Child Rights Initiative (ACRI), appreciated Buhari for signing the Almajiri Commission Bill 2023 into law.
He said that this landmark act of signing to law the commission marked a significant step toward addressing the long-standing issue of the Almajiri and out-of- school children in Nigeria.
Keana extended heartfelt congratulations to all stakeholders and citizens who contributed to the feat and ensured justice, equity and inclusiveness in education.
He said that the achievement signified that no child, Almajiri or not would be left behind again.
The ACRI Executive Director suggested a time frame of three months for the commission to come on board.
He said that this time bound approach would reinforce the urgency required to address the Almajiri issue and ensure that tangible outcomes were achieved within a specified period.
Keana also suggested that staff of the commission be drawn from existing Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to reduce overhead cost of governance and ensure effective utilisation of funds meant for real interventions.
“The Almajiri children experience severe violations of their rights before and during their time on the streets and in the hands of their caregivers.
“They are faced with multiple deprivations including lack of access to basic services, violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, as well as vulnerabilities to alcohol and substance abuse.
“ACRI and our partners are committed to forming a community of practice to provide technical support and assistance to the newly established commission.
“We understand the importance of ensuring that the commission remains focused on delivering real solutions to problems faced by Almajiri and out of school children, instead of serving another avenue for employment.
“We are confident that through diligence and sincerity of purpose, this can lead to lasting change,” he said.
NAN also reports that other CSOs that were at the event included Abiodun Bairewu Global Rights, Illimi Children Funds, Laylah Initiative for Boys and Girls, System Strategy and Policy Lab.
Others were the Child Solidarity Group, Chess in Slums Africa, Centre for Advocacy, Transparency and Accountability Initiative (CATAI), and Mufarka Youth Development Initiative among others. (NAN)