By M. Peter, Jos

Governors in the 19 states in Northern Nigeria have reviewed the risks the Almajiri children are exposed to due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, and have resolved to ban the Almajiri system.

This was part of the resolution reached at a meeting of the Northern Governors Forum held on Tuesday.

The meeting presided over by the chairman of the forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong was convened via teleconferencing with 17 governors participating according to a statement by Lalong’s Director of Press and Public Affairs, Dr. Makut Macham.

It was the second meeting of the forum within two weeks.

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The Governors discussed the risk that Almajiri children are exposed to because of the Coronavirus disease and they unanimously decided to “totally ban the Almajiri system and evacuate the children to their parents or states of origin”, Machan says.

Kano, Kaduna and Nasarawa states have begun returning Almajiri children to their families and states of origin, while those within their states who do not have parents are taken care of by the Government.

The forum reviewed response and measures adopted by each state to deal with the situation and noted with concern the increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 disease in the region.

Lalong told his counterparts that based on their resolution at the last meeting, he had a discussion with President Muhammadu Buhari and had conveyed their concerns on the need for the region to access special funding, palliatives, testing centres and other forms of support to assist the region deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“The President assured of the support of the Federal Government within the context of Federal Government programmes both under the Corona Virus response and under other incentives to farmers and States.”

The meeting further discussed the issue of COVID-19 Testing Centres within the Northern Region where it noted some improvement, but again insisted that “all States in the region should have at least one centre in order to make the detection of the disease and its management easier and faster.”

On border control and lockdown measures, the Northern Governors retained their earlier decision for the States to individually decide on the measure to adopt, but reaffirmed the need for border closures to stop inter-state spread of the disease, which is rising in the region.

They agreed not to allow the system persist any longer because of the social challenges associated with it including the perpetuation of poverty, illiteracy, insecurity and social disorder.

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The meeting also engaged the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Alhaji Muhammed Sabo Nanono on the incentives available to Nigerian Farmers and how those in their region can benefit.

The Minister outlined all the agricultural programmes of the Federal Government including provision of farm inputs and fertilizers, cluster farming, training and deployment of extension workers, provision of rural roads, value chain addition, development of irrigation facilities, agro-mechanization and mobilization of agro-rangers.

The Governors also raised concerns about the challenges of insecurity especially the activities of bandits, Boko Haram insurgents, kidnappers and other criminals whom they say pose great threat to farmers who are afraid to go to their farms – a development that could result in food insecurity and resolved to engage relevant Federal Government Agencies and heads of security agencies to urgently address the problem.