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OPINION

Hajiya Bagudu: For The Love Of The Fulani, Almajiris

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The fulanis or fulbe are one of the ethnic groups in the Sahel and West Africa numbering between 38 to 40 million in the world. In Nigeria, the fulani population is between 8 to 10 million. This ethnic group have a distinctive old tradition of rearing livestock especially cows.

The Fulanis are also one of the major tribes in Nigeria, they are mostly found in northern part of the country such as Adamawa, Kebbi, Katsina, Sokoto, Gombe and Yobe but because of their migratory nature, moving from one place to another with their animals in search of greener pasture, they are also called herders or Nomads“ . The fulanis are often associated with the habit of moving about with their animals, mostly cows ,goats and sheeps in a flock (group). Although the Fulanis are everywhere in Nigeria but they have large concentration in northern Nigeria and move down to the south to rear their animals in order to take advantage of the weather and the grassland in the region  if the dry season set in the north . Kebbi State which is one of the states in Nigeria with high population of Fulanis has 21 local government areas and 6 out of the 21 local government areas ; Bagudo, Suru, Birnin Kebbi, Gwandu, Bunza and Kalgo are local government areas densely populated by fulanis in Kebbi.

The Fulani have an interesting way of life and culture of looking after their animals upon which their livelihood depends and have  also contributed immensely to Nigeria‘s meat and milk production thereby helping the economic growth of the country. However, even with their contribution to the economic growth of Nigeria and stabilizing the food chain of the country, policy makers have relegated the Fulani tribe to the pheriphery.They are not carried along in the scheming of  development neither do they have a say on the issues of governance. Perhaps, neglecting them in the area of improving their lives through quality education and provision of basic social  aminities might have contributed to some of the security challenges we are facing today in Nigeria.

It is however gratifying to note that, in Kebbi State, the narrative is changing to better the lives of the Fulanis through the various interventions of Kebbi Government and an NGO called Mass Literacy for the Less Privileged Almajiri Initiative (MALPAI), a charity organisation established by the wife of Kebbi State Governor, Hajiya Aisha Atiku Bagudu . While the governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku has set aside 1.8 billion naira to enroll 600,000 out of the school children who are mostly young Almajiris loitering the streets in the name of begging and the establishment of six Almajiri Schools across the state. It is on record that apart from the joint efffort between the Kebbi State Government and MALPAI foundation in reducing the number of out of school children and illiterates in Kebbi, the efforts of Aisha Bagudu through her charity organisation, Malpai has significantly reduced poverty as well as empower the fulani women through her skill acquisition program in their various communities.

Malpai foundation in collaboration with Kebbi State Government has provided some basic aminities such as potable drinking water and schools for the education of fulani children in over 40 communities across the 4 emirates in the state. During the celebration of anniversary on the creation of Kebbi State, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Hajiya Rafaatu Hammani told the gathering that the ministry had established 40 schools within the fulani communities to provide them with both Western and Islamic education. Over 3000 almajiris benefitted from Mallpai foundation education scheme out of which 7 graduated from tertiary institutions. In the area of skill acquisition , women Fulanis received training on how to make Pomade cream, perfume as well as production of modern yogurt from the milk of thier animals. All these were are geared towards making the fulani women self reliant and stop them from the rigors of streets hawking. Malpai has identified that also one of the ways of improving the lives of the Fulanis was by ensuring the good health of their animals which is their source of livelihood. Animal vaccination were carried our from community to community free of charge.

It is worth mentioning that, Hajiya Aisha Bagudu , the founder of Mallpai foundation in her numerous visits to fulani settlements across the state apart from the efforts of her foundation in empowering the women through skills acquisition and educating their children and the young Almajiris, she has been personally contributing food, clothing materials and cash to them while also supervising how the the skills acquisition training was carried out.The wife of the governor has also ensured that the Fulanis were mobilised to register for both the National Identity Card and the voter cards in order to excercise their political franchise.

The 44 fulani communities that had benefited from the gesture of MALLPAI for the provision of basic aminities such as water and schools as well as skills acquisition across the 4 emirates included Rungar Hutawa village in Gwandu local government area,Gessen Bayero in Birnin Kebbi local government, Rugar Badariya in Argungu local government, Tudun Dabaga community in Arewa local government area, Rutun Alhaji Damana,Yauri local government, Juli Gironmasa in Shanga local government and in Zuru local government area, there is Tadurga community. I feel happy to see a community leader in Argungu, one Dikkon Danbugul who described the gesture of the wife of the governor as “God sent“  and appreciated her love and compassion to the Fulanis. On her part, one of the women beneficiaries, Asmau Alhaji Umar who acquired skill on how to process milk to yoghurt for commercial bussiness said, “ My life will never be the same again, I am empowered“.

 

– Abdullahi wrote from Kebbi State

 

 

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