• Stamp Out Poverty and Hunger before Outlawing Street Begging-Prof. Olagoke

    IndexSome states in Nigeria are in the process of outlawing street begging because according to the Powers that Be, it is constituting a nuisance to society. However, poverty and hunger are the twin challenges most homes in the country are contending with presently. A cross section of Nigerians insist that outlawing street begging is callous and inhuman, when Government at all levels have failed to provide the basic needs for good living for the citizens.

    In this interview, the Founder, Spiritual Head and Grand Imam of Shafaudeen-in-Islam Worldwide, Prof. Sabitu Olagoke opines even though it is imperative for government to outlaw street begging, government must first meet its obligations to the people. Excerpts :

    Do you think it is right for government to outlaw street begging considering the poverty and hunger in the land ?

    Street begging is cultural in some of our states, most especially in the Northern geo-political zone of the country due to the fact that it is an age long tradition.

    In the South West, South South and South East geo-political zone, it is alien because it was introduced due to some dispersal processes through mass movement from some areas to the other based on osmotic pressure of economic concern.

    No religion supports street begging but empathy through the concept of philanthropy and altruistic philosophy.

    If it is to be outlawed it would be easier for state governments in the South West, South South and South East, but through determination of purpose and political will.

    Lagos state tried it at a time, bundling strange faces moving around aimlessly. This was after their state of origin had been uncovered. The defect in the exercise was the accompanying hues and cries by the affected states that have no plan to rehabilitate the deportees. Some even said that the exercise was against the principle of federal character and one Nigeria. Besides this, discontinuity in governance that usually led to policy somersaults put a stop to the exercise.

    The symptoms accompanying street begging is the inactivity of government in the areas of provision of basic amenities and the consequent challenges of unemployment for most of the youth and the weaker ones who will prefer begging to more dastardly acts of kidnapping, prostitution, armed robbery, ritual killings and other criminal acts to survive the economic depression.

    Unfortunately, the security votes do not address the aspect of wealth generation and employment creation, hence it is not effective enough to prevent the challenges, but only offers mere mitigation.

    Fundamentally, the physiological needs of man expressed through food, clothing and shelter, when not met would always lead to unsafe habitation and an environment that is insecure.

    Cases of some street beggars turning into kidnappers or hired assassins are daily on the increase in Nigeria contributing to heightening state of insecurity in the state and country at large.

    If it is to be outlawed it would only be a case of relieving a section of the nation to increase the burden of the others because if we remain as one Nigeria nobody may eventually claim to eternally benefit more so when government, both Federal and State alike, are not yet ready to put up effective programs for the alleviation of poverty.

    From the spiritual perspective the Nigerian culture of atoning their sins through giving stipends to the beggars to achieve their desired aims and objectives, we need to change into recognizing the following virtuous codes of life, to be technically fit and well accomplished : dignity of labor, justice, equity, sincerity of purpose, hard work, transparency, accountability to support our drive towards peaceful co-existence, building of strong institutions and achieving promotion of inclusive society in our bid to establish and foster sustainable development.

    Interestingly, accidents resulting in liabilities are usually viewed as excuses to engage in street begging.

    If government is to outlaw street begging, the following factors need to be taken into consideration :

    Government policy on poverty alleviation must be pursued with vigor and it must also be inclusive to take care of the marginalized-women, children and people living with disabilities. 2)There should be rehabilitation programs in place to cater for various interests. For example the out-of-school children issue must be given adequate attention. 3)Cases of the elite aiding and abetting the transportation of poverty stricken souls from one state to the other must be investigated to effectively stop the act. For example in February, two trailer load of people from the North of the country were spotted somewhere in Iwo land, this prompted the Isokan Muslim community to promptly intervene. It was discovered that some Chiefs had collected about 500, 000 Naira each for the act to be possible. However, they were compelled to return the money amounting to about 3.5 million Naira while the migrants were sent back to the destination they came from. Two things might have happened if it had not been detected, street beggars could have been on the increase while some of them would have become security threats in Iwo land.

    Street begging therefore, must be outlawed, but let government do the needful before embarking on this.