According to Adamu Garba, a former presidential aspirant, the Almajiri system produced some of the affluent men in the country including Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote; as well as the founder of BUA Group, Abdul Samad Rabiu; amongst others.
Garba, who spoke on a PUNCH Live programme over the weekend, also said he was once an Almajiri before he acquired Western education.
The Almajiri system involves parents sending their wards to live with clerics in order to study the Qu’ran and Islamic tenets.
The system has been hugely criticised as the Almajirai often garbed in dirty clothes take to the streets to beg for alms, food and other basic supplies.
Former Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, amongst other notable Nigerians, have spoken effusively against the Almajiri system in the past. The ex-governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria believed the Almajiri system was one of the factors responsible for the poverty rate and poor literacy level in the northern part of the country.
Some Almajiri students have also been said to be co-opted into banditry and terror groups like Boko Haram by Islamic fundamentalists and ideological radicalists.
But the former presidential aspirant said the Almajiri system was intentionally a noble idea and had produced some affluent personalities in the country.
When asked whether the Almajiri system promotes terrorism, Garba said Boko Haram has no connection with the Almajiri system because of the dichotomy between Islamic denominations in northern Nigeria.
“So, it is very unlikely that you have an Almajiri man becoming a Boko Haram,” he told The PUNCH.
“Meanwhile, the same Almajiranci setting was a very strong grooming ground for so many big people from the north including most of the most notable families from the north, all of them came from Almajiri because Almajiranci itself has nothing to do with raw study of Islam; it has everything to do with studying businesses, marketing, relationship, and lifestyle.
“If you look at Dangote, our richest man today, his family are Almajirai. In fact, currently, the Dantata family is one of those supporting the largest Almajiri group in Nigeria. The group has up to 10,000 Almajiris and the Dantata family still supports them.
“Isiaka Rabiu, his father was a notable Almajiri. His family was a traditional Almajiri. In fact, his father was a Sheikh of Almajiranci. Until he died, he supported Almajiranci and up till now, they (the family) are still supporting Almajiranci. So, they (the Almajiri settings) have been able to build children that have become global icons. It means there is value in the Almajiranci.”