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Tackling menace of street begging




Abuja, Nigeria’s seat of power and one of the fastest growing cities in the world, is currently being challenged by several oddities. One of such oddities and the most threatening to the global ranking of the city, is the undying culture of open street begging.…CONTINUE READING

It is common to see all manner of beggars – both men , women , adults and children begging for alms. in the major streets of the Federal Capital Territory. The situation is even more disturbing in the rural communities of the six Area Councils. In some of these communities, street beggars are like a swarm of bees.

A resident had once said that Abuja’s known official slogan ” Centre of Unity ” is robustly reflected in the representation of all categories of the good, bad and ugly in the city. Some concerned residents have also argued that the heavy presence of beggars in Abuja may not be completely strange, because no society exists without the poor and destitute.

However, they insist that the consistent influx of beggars into the City Centre should not be left unchecked. The relevant authorities should as a matter of urgency look into the root causes of the menace.

Some critics have argued ,that it is a distasteful aberration to allow beggars the liberty to gather within the precincts of the ECOWAS Secretariat located in the highbrow Asokoro District and other such areas where foreigners and diplomats live.


Open defecation
Our findings have shown that one of the factors militating against the pride and glory of Abuja, is open defecation which also has a link with the poor and homeless.
Empirical evidence have linked the worsening situation of environmental degradation through open defecation to the street beggars.
Obviously, wherever the beggars are allowed to cluster, without access to basic sanitation facilities, open defecation and stench cannot be in short supply.

Unchecked migration
Inside Abuja gathered that the influx of beggars in Abuja was due to unchecked migration. Reliable sources revealed that beggars of all ages, were regularly shipped into Abuja from some far northern states, and sometimes from the southern parts of the country.

Just recently, the Social Development Secretariat of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, repatriated 217 beggars to Katsina, Kaduna, Niger, Jigawa, Kano, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi, Abia and Anambra.

It was learnt that on a daily basis, cargo trucks that bring food stuff and livestock from the north, convey these beggars in large numbers, and off load them at different places. Investigations have also revealed that these beggars were not embarking on the risky interstate migration alone. Rather they do it in collaboration with some sponsors and highly connected syndicates who arrange for their transportation and temporary accommodation in the city.


It was learnt that the ugly trend has remained an age long trade, because of the pecuniary interest which the syndicates always want to satisfy. Sources also revealed that it was with the help of the syndicates that these beggars who do not understand Abuja’s terrain, evade arrest, whenever the evacuation taskforce was activated.

Inconsistent, selective enforcement
Inside Abuja’s findings showed that the menace of street begging has remained endemic in Abuja, because the Department of Social Welfare, in Social Development Secretariat( SDS) saddled with the responsibility of evacuating beggars, have been grossly inconsistent and inefficient. Their operations are characterized by what is popularly known as “eye service”. They only take feeble actions , but with media paparazzi, each time a complaint emanates from people considered to be VIPs in society.

Sometime ago, when about 150 beggars were arrested and repatriated to their various home states, officials of SDS claimed they were determined to hit 1000 target in the number of beggars they want to repatriate.

This target was however thrown into the cooler of inactivity, and the evacuation team went into a prolonged coma.


Way forward
Four months into the Nyesom Wike’s led administration as FCT Minister, residents have continued to reel out their expectations. Expectations are high on what the minister ought to do to arrest the growing menace of street begging. The status of Abuja has been negatively affected by the large population of street beggars. The consensus among those Inside Abuja contacted was that
Nyesom Wike has to raise his game on taming street begging.

Though, they acknowledged that no society has ever been completely free from the grip of the poor, allowing beggars to besiege diplomatic zones and other highbrow areas was totally an abnormality.

A Cleric, and resident of Abuja, Pastor Josiah Maduabuchi, said the menace of street begging may not be eliminated, but can be controlled. Maduabuchi who also claimed to be a social crusader, noted that the FCT Minister needs to come up with an action plan that will curb the menace, as soon as possible. “It is an eye sore seeing all manner of persons with disabilities begging on the busy roads, without considering their safety. “At some of the satellite towns , like Gwagwalada, Kubwa, Nyanya and Karu, you will see beggars dragging for space with vehicles on the roads.
“They are also found at the City centre where they are not supposed to be found, places like traffic light junctions,” he said.

As a way of setting agenda for the Minister and the FCTA, the Cleric stated that the social Development Secretariat should be restructured to tackle the ugly trend of street begging. “The Social Development Secretariat need to stand up to its responsibility, if the law allows them to evacuate the beggars from the street, the enforcement squad should be up and doing,” Maduabuchi said.

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