For the past few years, the rate of begging in Idi Araba area of Lagos State has tremendously stood high despite the measurable tactics deployed by the government to curb the trend.
In an interview with one of their leaders, one “Sarkin Makafi Iko” translated as “The King of the Blind beggars of Lagos State, Alhaji Abdullahi Hamza who hails from Sandamu Local Government Area of Katsina State, said “I have been begging in this state for over 60 years now and from that time till now, there has been series of maladies inflicting us as less privileged.
“We have been together with several governments in Lagos State and we can as well tell the attitude of each administration towards us. The government of Lateef Jakande has done well in carving a comfort zone for us, he didn’t neglect us, he often invited us for prayers and also provided for us our basic needs”. He added.
According to him, “during the tenure of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the goodies came also. The governor usually sends for us through the immediate past Imam Abubakar. The government of Fashola and Ambode came with a tragic story for us. We hope Sanwo-Olu would make a difference”“Just like other children goes to school, ours are also entitled to acquire education. We pay house rent and other bills. We cannot achieve all these if not through begging.
Similarly, Mallam Ibrahim Audu who affirmed that he has been in the business for over 50 years urged the public care for beggars who are physically and mentally challenged. In a feigned voice he said, “Out of more than ten children that God blessed me with, only one is remaining. Others have passed away, so I wisely utilise the money earned to send my only son to school in Kano State and also take care of my health issues.
One Rakiya Abdullahi who is in 60’s decried how horrible it is to be a beggar. “Some people bring us possessed gifts, which has hugely claimed lives of our colleagues. No one would like to be a beggar, but I think this is the path we have chosen. I would like the government to equip us to be self-sufficient by giving us a better option to begging.
According to a source that pleaded anonymity, “some of them gain a lot from this business and I don’t think they can quit. There is one among them called Dan Bauchi, he is physically and mentally fit, but why he begs remain a mystery for me”“ I would describe him as ‘beggar mogul’ for he practice the business with sophistication. Both his colleagues and motorists branch his spot for change of money, which he usually removes his interest in any exchange. He added.