The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Thursday asked state governors to live up to their responsibilities by addressing social menace, including the Almajiris in the North.
He noted that social issues, including divorce, drug abuse and the attendant effects on children were matters the states could handle primarily.
Buhari spoke at the opening of a National Conference for Repositioning the Muslim Family for National Development in Abuja.
It was organised by the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in conjunction with Future Assured, a pet project of the First Lady, Aisha Buhari.
Foremost traditional and religious leaders such as the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III; Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II; and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, as well as Islamic scholars attended the event.
The President also admitted that poverty was wreaking havoc on families in Nigeria, adding that on the part of his regime, interventions such as Trader Moni, Conditional Cash Transfers and School Feeding Programme were introduced to address the problem.
However, he insisted that the state governments must address social menace as their immediate responsibilities. Buhari recalled that his regime had given financial bailouts to the states since 2015 to address local challenges in their individual domains, adding that the money should be put to such use.
Most of the 36 states had received up to N614billion as bailouts from the Federal Government.
The President noted, “Most of the challenges affecting the family are within the mandates and the jurisdictions of state governments. In compliance with constitutional stipulations and provisions, we gave bailouts to them to assist them in discharging these obligations and statutory mandates.
“It is our expectations that state governments will rise up to these challenges and do their own part in this social degeneration.”
Speaking further on the effects of poverty, he admitted that poverty was doing great damage to families in the country.
“We have been conscious of the havoc poverty is wreaking on the family. We therefore believe that poverty alleviation is central to safeguarding the integrity of our families.
“Our administration introduced a number of economic empowerment and poverty alleviation schemes. Some of these directly impact on families while others have indirect effect on families through their multiplier effects,” Buhari told the session.
The President called on Muslim and Christian leaders to make the challenges families were facing in Nigeria the centre of their preaching, in order to strengthen the family.
Sanusi, who was the guest speaker at the conference, maintained that it was the responsibility of the man to take full care of his family.
He argued that this responsibility was covered by Islam, adding that even in divorce, a man must cater for the welfare of his children.
The Kano monarch called for legislation to arrest any abuses of the family system under the guise of culture or other considerations.
“Ever day, wives are complaining about their husbands who claim their rights but abandon their responsibilities of marriage; women being divorced with their husbands not taking care of the children; and those children ending up on the streets, doing drugs, political thuggery, violent extremism.”
Sanusi insisted that the responsibility to enforce laws on marriage rights remained that of the state governors and legislatures, noting that irresponsible fathers should ordinarily be held accountable.
He wondered how a man would just think that his duties ended with marrying a woman and having kids.
Sanusi stated further, “Do you just marry and have children without any responsibilities? The reason Allah send His prophets is that there should be justice in this world. Justice in our relationship with our maker and in our relationships with our fellow human beings.
“So, the problem is these groups of human beings are those who will stand to answer to Allah if there is no justice.
“The traditional and religious leaders have an obligation to ask for justice, but those with the political powers have an obligation to put in place the processes that will make sure that justice is complied with.”
He disclosed that in consultation with the Sultan, the first set of laws to address the issues had been packaged to be forwarded to the Kano State Governor, Mr Abdullahi Ganduje, to present to the legislature.
On her part, Aisha stated that the social problems like the Almajiris had worsened because of non-compliance to existing laws and policies.
In the same vein, the Sultan called on Buhari to direct state governors to implement high-level solutions suggested over the years.