Muslim group cautions on Bishop Kukah’s philanthropic gesture.
Plans by the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto State, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah to train at least 10 million almajiri children in the north has been rejected by the Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC.
In a statement released yesterday, MURIC described Kukah’s intention to train the almajiri children as “modern colonialism and a potential time bomb.”
The Muslim group went further that feeding ten million predominantly Muslim children by a Christian cleric will wrongly portray “Muslims as a bunch of unintelligent, irresponsible and carefree people.”
The group advised Muslim elders to reject the idea, saying they should rather empower people of the same faith to cater for almajiri children.
Muric while acknowledging the all important need to cater for the downtrodden children said, “We all agree that something must be done about the children. We can welcome ideas from everyone but the implementation must be in the hands of Muslims in the region.
“We wish to caution Northern Muslims, particularly the elders, never to allow it to happen. Instead of allowing Christian missionaries to seize this kind of initiative, Northern Muslims should empower available Muslim NGOs to cater for almajiri children.
“We therefore advise state governments in the region to rearrange their priorities and concentrate on the education and welfare of almajiri children.”
The group faulted father Kukah’s intentions and queried why a foreign donor would be interested in funding a project targeted at Muslim children since they are known “for their preference for supporting Christian-oriented non-governmental organisations, NGOs.”
However, the group did not reject the Bishops gesture entirely, but advised Kukah to gain the confidence of northern Muslims by allowing Muslim NGOs to implement the project, while the reverend father and the donors monitor how the funds were used.
It stated further, “Is Rev. Kukah telling us that he prefers to alleviate poverty among Muslims to doing same among Christians? Are there no poverty-stricken children in the Christian majority Middle Belt, particularly in Benue and Plateau? Why can’t he take his project there?’’
“Another question has to do with funding. Who will fund this gigantic project? Our guess is that the fund will come (or has come) from one of those foreign donors. This raises another major concern.
“Incidentally, Western donors are known for their preference for supporting Christian-oriented non-governmental organizations, NGOs. They dish out huge amounts of money to non-Muslim NGOs while Islamic organizations get pittance, and that is if they get anything at all. That is not to say we are blaming them. We have no moral right to do so.
“But we have every right to stand up against Kukah’s almajiri initiative and question the rationale behind a foreign donor or donors funding a project targeted at Muslim children particularly if the project is to be executed by a Christian organization.
“We cannot allow such a misleading impression to remain just like that. Muslims are responsible people, idealistic, pious, self-satisfied and integrity-loaded.
“We caution foreign donors to desist from exploiting our predicament. We invite foreign donors who are genuinely interested in helping the almajiris to do so through Muslim NGOs.
“To secure the confidence of Northern Muslims, Kukah should put his cards on the table. Who are the donors? How much are we looking at? What is the time frame?”