INSIDE NIGERIA; On the Issue of Beggars

Posted: January 8, 2014 in Articles, INSIDE NIGERIA
Tags: , , , , , , ,

by Okoye Chukwudi Charles Ezeamalukwuo

Have you ever boarded a bus from any of the commercial motor parks in the country? If you haven’t then you are not yet a full fleshed Nigerian.
A female friend of mine went to the park one hot afternoon to board a bus going to Port Harcourt from Benin. You know how our ladies dress naa…Brazilian hair, high heels, leggings, colour riot and co, and in her mind right then, she was the undisputed Miss Universe. On getting to the park she made her way towards the ticket counter. But barely had she entered the park did a pack of kids encircle her and started begging from her. My friend decided to ignore them, and continued her long march to freedom…sorry to the ticket counter..but ignorance wouldn’t cut it because one of the kids threw herself on her, wrapping her small hands around one of her leg…”Aunty I am hungry”..In order to save face my friend gave her a N50 note and she left her. The others seeing what had just happened quickly threw themselves around her legs and hands. I swear I have not seen a volcano erupting but I don’t think it gets any better (or worst) than this. My friend lost it, screaming on the top of her voice like a Danfo Conductor calling on passengers on a crowded Oshodo pack on a sunny day. The kids scattered, laughing and giggling like the mischievous lots that they were…their excited voices could be heard rising with the tropical dust, while my friend walked on in shame.

Experiences like this occur in our Motor-park everyday. Mothers carry their malnourished babies on their backs and go about begging from passengers, while their remaining kids go aroving round the park seeking for unsuspecting passengers to torment. I don’t know if they pay tax to the park authorities, because it is now a norm to see them loitering in the parks. No park is complete without their presence in or around it.

The Nigerian society has evolved (or will I say mutated) into one that condones begging as a profession. Everywhere you go there is a form of, a genre of, a type of begging taking place. Either direct begging; in the case of a beggar bearing bowl and begging for bread and butter. Or in the case of indirect begging; where some women and men go about carrying “appeal-fund” cards of Motherless babies or prisons and begging for assistance. Or even the case of begging by intimidation; which is the type monopolised by our Police force and other Government parastatals. All is begging, and the sector is not just growing, it is also booming.

Hardly will you visit any church in the country and you will not see a werner array of beggars sitting in the entrance of the church. Hardly will you stand in the traffic and your window will not receive a tap which will be followed by a soft hungry eyes and outstretched hands imploring for your help like the fate of the world depends on it.

Not to sound inhumane, I believe that some of these guys are really in need of our help and assistance, and we should never shy away either from want of time or trust to offer a helping hand to the lowest members of our society. But many more are just there because they are lazy and the business is lucrative. A lot of Agbero (area boys/thugs) are partial beggars, blocking the road and demanding money for hailing a supposed big man. I don’t know when singing praise of a rich stranger is now a job.
In the airport, most airport security men are too busying asking for “Anything for Us” from passengers to detect any security breach. In the public service sector, it is more of a case of intimidation and extortion but with the same voice of a beggar still.

I believe that it is about time something was done to curb the menaces of begging. Having a bodily ailment or being disabled is not a qualification or a licence to beg. Many disabled persons are contributing their fair share to the development of the nation. Being poor is no reason whatsoever to join the Beggars Association of Nigeria. Begging should not be allowed to continue as a full-time occupation, a job that people wake up in the morning to go to.

Our Parks are usually dirty and unkempt, I suggest that Park authorities should employ beggars to do the work of keeping motor parks clean and paying them for their services. I feel that churches should do more than just collect tithes, donations and offerings from their members. They should help those beggars littered around the Church premises to find a decent source of income. They should educate their congregations on the ills of begging for begging sake. And finally, Government should look into the case of “Professional” beggars. Government needs to offer them jobs of janitors, road sweepers, gutter cleaners or any other menial jobs. Government needs to find ways to empower youths, create jobs and reduce the growing number of beggars both in the Public sector (Government Parastatals and police force) and Private sector (Individuals). I feel that public begging should be banned all together, and family planning should be made compulsory for those women indulge in begging. Disciplinary actions should be taken against public servants, civil servants that extort money from clients before discharging their duties.
I believe that this measures will help us to check our mutation into an insane society and set us back to the course of evolving into a more responsible society.

If this is not done soon, hmmmm…I am writing this as an unemployed graduate, if nothing is done to curb the lucrative business of begging…maybe next time I blog, it will be from my roadside beggar’s shop…GOD FORBID BAD THING ABEG.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

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Comments
  1. boja says:

    well said,, i had to give out money to some of em this morning….i even discussed this issue with a friend i just met….of how lazy we nigerians are…..i don’t condone, support or advocate begging of any sort…..but the real problem is how do we get this message across to the authorities….to the car parks, to the churches etc ??? Something needs to be done and very fast about this particular issue…On the issue. of people with physical infirmities, sometimes i feel for them…. but they can still be very productive but they need to be encouraged…..ok more comments later…

  2. boja says:

    Thanks lyriversity,,,i will sacrifice some of my time to be part of this great media….

  3. Sheyzznote says:

    You’ve spoken well like a Bard you are, every reasons so stated as the reason to begging are right and your points were just absolute true, I cannot but appreciate your pen on this subject matter, but my petition is simple, “what happen to a stocked fish when you try to straighten it?”- breaks right? Yes! Such is the mentality that most Nigerians have.

    Begging is not the genesis, neither will it be the revelation of things yet seen.
    Charity do begin at home!

    Not our leaders, not our churches, not the motor parks, not private sector but the MINDSET of individuals. No man can fail until failure is accepted as the last resort.
    It all starts with the Decision to be a failure, the reason you and I are not in that category of street beggars and the likes is simple because we refuse from our mind never to succumb to that fate despite the hard life we are going through.

    “All men are beggars.”
    Just what you’re begging for and how you’re doing it that differs. We have productive and positive begging like when you pray to God or ask for sponsorship on a thing from a well to do person.

    I won’t condemn anyone, or raise dust to the sky of the issue at hand, but if we must find a perpetual end to all our economic and societal demise, we should advocate for a positive MINDSET.

    Liberty of creativity, so I thought. Now you know what to do.

    Timi (Sheyzznote)

    • Ezeamalukwuo says:

      All men are beggars…hmmm that’s too presumptious don’t you think. Poverty is a terrible disease yes. One has to be mentally poor before he/she settles for public begging…I do agree too…but some circumstances have rendered a lot of people mentally poor, some circumstances beyond their control…but some other persons have survived and made it in such circumstances too.

    • Ezeamalukwuo says:

      All men are beggars…hmmm that’s too presumptious don’t you think. Poverty is a terrible disease yes. One has to be mentally poor before he/she settles for public begging…I do agree too…but some circumstances have rendered a lot of people mentally poor, some circumstances beyond their control…but some other persons have survived and made it in such circumstances too..

  4. olisaeloka says:

    I agree with you. Begging is really eating deep into the root of our society. And I’m sure that this sad plague can ever be annihilated again. So sad. Thanks for the brilliant write up.

  5. olisaeloka says:

    I agree with you. Begging is really eating deep into the root of our society. And I’m not sure that this sad plague can ever be annihilated again. So sad. Thanks for the brilliant write up my brother. Remain blessed.

  6. Chimezie says:

    I will take the liberty of calling you Observer Extraordinarie. Good piece.

    Begging is synonymous with Nigeria. A visit to a ‘real’ motorpark, and you will see, doubtless.
    Today at Upper Iweka, on my way to Owerri, i was accosted by those beautiful Indian children who beg for a living. I don’t know, but, I feel a deep compassion for these children. I think the cruel terrain of this country’s living standards is something to blame. Many people cannot get a decent square meal not to talk a job of any type.

    • Ezeamalukwuo says:

      Thanks Chimezie…poverty is very very rampant in Nigeria..it has made soon many peole to lose any atom of shame…I feel you

  7. david culkins says:

    I completly agree. Solar this is a very good write up. I suspect this comes from ur 3rd heart. Standing oviation dude

  8. joe thinking says:

    It is crazy seeing dis around…….even the police are not left out in d begging….

  9. Anene Francis says:

    I concur with virtually all the points you raised and supporting facts. Ever so wonderful is the manner of presentation. Considering the topic under discuss, someone seeing me as I read this write up would be wondering if I’m this wicked to be laughing about beggars. lol…

    When I’m approached by a begger, some questions prick my conscience:
    *If I give him something, won’t it encourage him to keep begging? (So maybe I’m not really helping him on the long run)
    * If I don’t help him, he may die of hunger. Isn’t it my moral responsibility to assist my neighbour in my capacity?
    * Many beggars are not real or deserving of my alms but a few genuine ones . Should I shorn this beggar to avoid possibility of being dubbed in the name of charity?
    *Or should I give him and let God that sees the heart be the judge? … Now I give depending on which one strikes me most at that time.

    With the present state of the country, begging is inevitable. The things you suggested should be put in place by government and other bodies should come first before banning of public begging as was done in Kano state recently.
    *Individual too should help in their little capacity to provide them honourable ways of earning a living not just alms.
    *Immigration should be checked to reduce the people that come into the country for nothing else other than to beg for a living… Nigeria must be better.

    Nice work mr Solar. Keep it up.

    • lyriversity says:

      Always the great analyzer…I like your take on this. I too do feel this dilemma, but we should never shy away from helping our poor brothers just becaise of want of time or trust. But the people I find it hardest to help are those people that carry placard of motherless babies abd beg..I believe those folks are disguised beggars..they don’t remit anything to the Motherless babies home. And haven visited the Motherless Babies home I know that they can do well without the few pennies those folks donate after their begging trips.

  10. LegendaryCJN says:

    To begin with, I must say well done for this one.
    However, I would like to say that alms begging and giving is an age long tradition and it has come to stay. But like many other things on earth, too much of it is what I frown at. Even in the streets of London which are supposedly ‘paved with gold’, beggars and street urchins are seen asking for alms from passersby.
    In retrospective, the idea of begging for alms is not a case of Nigeria alone. In fact, it’s estimated that developed continents have more alms beggars than underdeveloped continents like Africa where pride (personal or tribal) may be a factor hindering people from taking to streets to beg for alms.
    In view of the above, I would like to say that begging is given credence by these two quotes: ‘blessed are they that give’ and ‘all fingers are not equal’. To the first, there would be no need to give if there is no receiver. Besides, many religions, especially the three Abrahamic religions believe that by giving alms to those seeking it, they are gaining favour from God.
    The second case is more appealing to the senses and is selfishly motivated as the first. However, you made a very interesting point here: “Our Parks are usually dirty and unkempt, I
    suggest that Park authorities should employ
    beggars to do the work of keeping motor parks
    clean and paying them for their services. I feel
    that churches should do more than just collect
    tithes, donations and offerings from their
    members. They should help those beggars littered
    around the Church premises to find a decent
    source of income. They should (use the time they spend in repeating scriptural texts every Sunday to) educate their congregations on the ills of begging for begging sake.”
    It’s obvious though that our Government would not do anything about it. I’m not exonerating FG entirely, but I think that the number of alms beggars does not determine the development and or underdevelopment of a country…I’ve given my reasons a

  11. LegendaryCJN says:

    To begin with, I must say well done for this one.
    However, I would like to say that alms begging and giving is an age long tradition and it has come to stay. But like many other things on earth, too much of it is what I frown at. Even in the streets of London which are supposedly ‘paved with gold’, beggars and street urchins are seen asking for alms from passersby.
    In retrospective, the idea of begging for alms is not a case of Nigeria alone. In fact, it’s estimated that developed continents have more alms beggars than underdeveloped continents like Africa where pride (personal or tribal) may be a factor hindering people from taking to streets to beg for alms.
    In view of the above, I would like to say that begging is given credence by these two quotes: ‘blessed are they that give’ and ‘all fingers are not equal’. To the first, there would be no need to give if there is no receiver. Besides, many religions, especially the three Abrahamic religions believe that by giving alms to those seeking it, they are gaining favour from God.
    The second case is more appealing to the senses and is not selfishly motivated as the first. However, you made a very interesting point here: “Our Parks are usually dirty and unkempt, I
    suggest that Park authorities should employ
    beggars to do the work of keeping motor parks
    clean and paying them for their services. I feel
    that churches should do more than just collect
    tithes, donations and offerings from their
    members. They should help those beggars littered
    around the Church premises to find a decent
    source of income. They should (use the time they spend in repeating scriptural texts every Sunday to) educate their congregations on the ills of begging for begging sake.”
    It’s obvious though that our Government would not do anything about it. I’m not exonerating FG entirely, but I think that the number of alms beggars does not determine the development and or underdevelopment of a country…I’ve given my reasons above.

    ***words in parenthesis are mine.

  12. Anene Francis says:

    I agree with mr Chime especially on the supporting quote why begging is a norm here and the fact that it is not peculiar to developing countries alone… @ Solar, you are right. But I still give those ones claiming to represent orphanages some consideration. Especially when I remember that mother Theresa of Kalcutta was genuine, begging on behalf of others. And may have been wrongly labeled a fraud in her time when she started. I kind of look out for signs that suggest him or her being fake then hope for inspiration from above.

  13. Anene Francis says:

    Nothing in particular. maybe by intuition. Many of the fake ones are good actors. I won’t consider myself a good lie detector but see this example: Imagine a situation whereby the beggar flashes brief evil grin smile after receiving from other person and thinking he is not seen. If I have not given, I might just pocket mine back.

    • Ezeamalukwuo says:

      A beggar flashing an evil grin, hmmmm…Mr Anene, now this sounds like a nollywood movie, Mr Ibu and Mr Osuofia…he smiles. I hear you

  14. Begging is never a taboo if the beggar is incapacitated and/or has nobody to look up to for daily bread assistance. But as for those able-bodied beggars, theirs is shameful and should be discouraged by all.

    But waiting for the government to slam decrees to abrogate begging in the country, is as good as waiting for El Doraldo. I said this because government on their own, have a lot of “beggars” to contend with. You know what I mean.

    So I’d rather have you look up to the Church, NGOs, and spirited individuals to help eradicate this upsurging tornadoe called street begging.

    Or should we beg them to stop begging? Which on itself is begging (unique begging you might say)

  15. timnwaobilo says:

    Observer Extraordinaire indeed, Mr Charles.
    At the risk of being subjective, I think begging is a vice, yes, a vice, eating into our common fabric, and encouraging laziness and over-societal-independence and definitely breeding crime. Cos when you beg and dont receive, something just gotta work out, doesn’t it? However I subscribe to the mental poverty phenomenon prescribed by Mr Charles.

    Also Mr Francis earlier comment of Jan9 greatly appeals to me and i totally concur.

    Mr CJN subtly opens a pandora’s box by saying

    ‘blessed are they
    that give’ and ‘all fingers
    are not equal’.

    …and…

    ” The second case is more
    appealing to the senses
    and is selfishly
    motivated as the first ”

    I can infer that he means Giving is FUNDAMENTLY based on selfish reasons. That caught my interest. May we Expound on that line of thought, in this discourse, and indeed in new articles on this blog. I would sincerely love that.

    Mr Charles kudos.

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