Maiduguri: a city, street of orphans?


Abubakar H. Muhammad

"Will people like Abdulhameed now have to marry four wives?"

Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno State, has been overly populated within few years, as most of the local government areas in the state were captured and controlled by the insurgents, forcing the inhabitants to flee through thick and deadly bushes on foot to Maiduguri, probably the only place they can get safety and desired hospitality.

Majority of these victims where women and small children whose husbands, parents, brothers and guardians were killed by the insurgents, with some recruited into the sect.

However, as they are seen rolling and rocking on the streets of Maiduguri, one can hardly fail to spot them among children in the city by a mere sight, because of their dirty, frumpy, and malnourished physique, wearing a hungry face.

The military under the Operation Lafiya Dole, has succeeded in recapturing some of these territories from the insurgents recently, and fortunately up to their last stronghold, the Sambisa forest, which led to the declaration of Boko Haram free society by the federal government a few weeks ago.

The federal government in alliance with the state government has embarked on the reconstruction, resettlement and rehabilitation (RRR) of the affected areas, where some successes have also been recorded so far.

Now the question is: how do these victims survive in Maiduguri and what are the influences of this environment on them?

As some of them have witnessed brutal killings by the insurgents, to the extent that some of them have developed some radical ideological tendencies, what becomes of them after the crisis?

The widows and orphans on the streets of Maiduguri, some of whom have melted into the life of the city and may not probably go back to their local governments, who will marry them, and who will stand as an inspiring figure for the young children, someone who they will look up to like a father?

However, some of the orphans in the streets of Maiduguri were not only victims of the insurgency, but rather abandoned children by irresponsible parents in the name of seeking knowledge: 'Almajirai', offshoots who are mostly dumped in the street, fed and brought up by the street. A case similar to this was the newly-born child found in Galtimari ward on 19th January, 2017. The child was dumped in a refuse dumping ground.

These kind of 'orphans' survive in the street by begging for food and sleeping anywhere they find themselves, in motorparks, unguarded schools and uncompleted buildings. They also engage in all sort of cheep labour and criminal offences like pickpocket and other things. They constitute majority of the crime register in every police station.

These categories of the population have a lot of implications on the society, simply a threat.

The question now is, how can their effects on the society be contained, and to what extent can the government and other agencies tackle it as it requires an emergency approach?

My friend Abdulhamid used to tell me that, the bottomline in choosing a wife for him is orphanage, that as much as there are other essential things, it has to be in addition to it. This because, he said, he is himself once an orphan and will not miss the bounties of taking responsibilities of one from the Almighty Allah. If people like him with the same ideology will firmly undertake it, will they now have to marry four wives each to reduce the pain they go through and their numbers in the streets of Maiduguri?

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