Amid low patronage, cash shortage, beggarsask for POS machines from Anambra govt



…We’ll open social diary for beggars – Commissioner

STREET begging was not a common feature among the Igbo people, mostly in the Eastern part of Nigeria.

Then, it used to be a shameful thing in Igbo culture for one to be referred to as ‘onyeariro’ (a beggar).

Beggars are commonly seen in the northern part of the country, and this is mainly because of the Almajiri system, which allows children to go about in their numbers begging for food and alms.

Not that one have never seen a beggar of Igbo extraction, but then, street begging used to be the preserve of people living with different forms of disabilities.

  However, in recent times, it is becoming obvious that the practice of begging is growing exponentially and changing into various forms, mostly among our Igbo brethren who are formerly known for their hard work, and who take pride in any work they do, no matter how small.

These days, it is not an uncommon sight to see a young person who is not suffering from any form of disability, begging around motor parks and big markets. So, what actually changed? Why is it that some of us now take pride in begging instead of hard work that we were known for?

  Reacting to the issue of begging, and the reasons why our people beg, Dr Ikeorah Janet said, “begging is a practice that has endured for centuries. Considerably, the principle of inequality can be adjudged as the cause of begging.

The saying that all fingers are not created equal also applies to humans across the globe. We experience birth more or less equally, but afterwards, life never treats us the same.

Life chooses to turn its bright side on some and leave others in its dark side. Fortune and misfortune do take a toll on humans unequally.

What I am saying is that we are all predestined to fall on either side of a two-sided coin. Once tossed, we get shuffled between affluence and poverty, happiness and sorrow, success and failure, greatness and ordinariness, as well as being well-to-do and being needy.

  “Generally, beggars lack the necessities of life which include shelter, clothing, and food. They rely on alms for their continued upkeep.

These, they acquire by either wandering from place to place in search of good Samaritans or rooted to a particular spot where all sorts of naira notes are dropped in their plates or outstretched hands.

The worrisome state of these beggars has become a burden and a responsibility to citizens across Nigeria.

  “Again, laziness can also be said to be a major cause of begging among our people. One can easily notice that most of these beggars around are able-bodied young men and women.

They take advantage of people’s kindness and their religious sentiments of giving alms to the poor to continue their begging enterprise and one will not be wrong to describe these people as cunning parasites, who take advantage of human compassion to make a fortune.

Laziness especially among the youth is on the increase these days and many of them are no longer interested in seeking education or even make attempts to acquire any entrepreneurial skill, neither will they have the patience to stay under a person to learn a trade.

  “Also, religion seems to encourage the practice of begging. Many people view almsgiving as a service to God. Beggars take advantage of this to perpetuate their act of begging.

The religious faith of people has overtime encouraged begging.

This is because when people give alms to beggars, they believe that they are fulfilling a religious obligation, hence, beggars are encouraged to continue their business of begging.”

  Speaking on why people beg, a beggar who goes by the name Chidimma, a mother of  three young children who now has a portion under the popular AROMA Bridge, in Awka said: “I beg because I don’t have any other thing to do.

My husband died four years ago, left two children for me, and I was a house wife as at that time.

  My husband’s brother used to help us, but recently, his mind had been poisoned against us and so we don’t have any one else to help us. that is why I have resorted to begging to help me take care of my children.

  Now that there is a scarcity of cash, people find it difficult to give us money again, so we are begging the government to come to our aid. If they can provide POS machines for us, it will be better so that any one who wishes to give us money but do not have cash can easily slot in his or her card to make withdrawal.

  Then, on how begging has metamorphosed over the years, Mr Ichelle Onyema said, “begging used to be a one man business, where a disabled person stand on a path way begging.

But it is indeed disheartening these days to see that begging is gradually becoming a legacy in Nigeria; passing from parent to child.

These days, you see a whole family who has taken begging as a profession come out to a busy area, with their poor innocent kids running after cars and wandering from shops to houses, person to person begging for alms. Their territory has no boundary.

  Meanwhile, there are other parents whose inability to take up their parental responsibility push their kids to the streets to strive for survival by way of begging.

Since the chance of survival for these kids are slim, they make begging a habit which in later years becomes a lifestyle.

In most cases, these parents stay at a nearby spot and push their children in the frontline to beg for alms while they helplessly watch somewhere in the background- their future vanishing.

  There is also another group of beggars that we can call the employed beggars in our societies.  It is common these days to see groups of people who move around in uniforms with a sick person or pictures of a sick person begging for alms.

These people, who are often not related to the sick but are employed to beg, attract the attention of the public with melodious Christian songs and prayers, often made to solicit for help or bless those who give them.

  Another group of beggars under this category are those who beg in the name of institutions, such as orphanages, motherless baby homes, and churches, begging for help on behalf of the institution. These people are often seen at the motor parks and marketplaces.

They move around with an identity card and a book to record whatever is given to them.

  There is still another group of beggars that are indigenes of Anambra state, who feel that beggars make a lot of money but are shy to beg in their towns of origin or in areas where they reside.  They move to other towns or as far as other states where the chances of running into people that know them are slim. This set of beggars are not handicapped or disabled in any way.

  It is now obvious that begging is fast becoming a trend and beggars are gradually taking over our major cities, big markets and motor parks and it is high time the government did something to reduce the number of these beggers.”

  On what the government is doing to take these beggars off the street, the Commissioner for Women and Social Welfare, Ify Obinabo said, “we have total package plan for all the beggars in the state, but the plan will depend on what brought them to the streets.

Like the handicapped and the less privileged ones, very soon, we will embark on a serious empowerment that will cut across the handicapped and less privileged women begging in the state. And for the children, we will try as much as possible to get them back to school”.

  “Then for those of them that are not from Anambra State, we send them back to their states. But there is something very unique that we are about doing, we want to open up a social diary where we write down the details of every beggar we get, so that after we have exhausted what we have in plan for them, and we see any of them any other place in Anambra state, we are going to prosecute them”.

“This is because there are people that are in Anambra State here begging, not because they are supposed to be begging, but they are doing it because they feel that begging is a greener pasture, but this time,  it will not be business as usual.

As soon as we are done with this election, we are coming into the streets full time. This time around, we get them, profile them, know where they came from and why they are on the streets.   

  For those of them that are from other states, we will send them back to their states. All I need do is to call the attention of my colleagues there, tell them what is going on, that we are sending their people back to them because this state is not a place where anybody can come in and start begging just like that”.

  “This move is necessary because when you go to other states like Ebonyi, you hardly see beggars there, but 80 per cent of the beggars in Anambra State are from Ebonyi State.

So you now see that these beggars see this place as their land of milk and honey, so instead of them to go and hustle and be gainfully employed, they prefer to lazy around, keep begging people for alms”.

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