From WALTER UKAEGBU
Despite claims by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCDA) that it is creating a database for all beggars within the city with a view to keeping them off the streets, beggars still adorn several areas in the metropolis.
Muhammad Bello, FCT Minister, recently visited a vocational and rehabilitation centre in Kuchiko, Bwari Area Council, where he promised that all beggars would be apprehended and brought to the centre.
Bello had repeatedly said that a database would provide the FCTA with information and guidance for government to make arrangements for the beggars, most of whom came from neighbouring states, to be repatriated.
For instance, at the Karu Bridge Junction near the post of the Federal Road Safety Corps, beggars are seen daily practicing what they know how to do best.They ‘man’ the beat in their scores, accosting motorists and passersby for alms. They look very organised, as their elderly ones and mothers stay under nearby trees, leaving only the children to do the begging.
Others spread across the neighbourhood in batches, dotting the roads from Karu to the expressway going to Kugbo. The most surprising thing is that as early as 5.30am, the beggars are already “at work.” This development has made many to ask questions like, who brings them there and by what means? They do their business there until about 6pm before disappearing from the road.
Apart from the danger they cause motorists as they meander and run across the roads, dashing from one vehicle to the pther, they also contribute to the traffic bottlenecks witness every morning in the area.
On why the beggars do not like going to the rehabilitation centre, Abubakar Idris a businessman at Kugbu, said they prefer being on the roads as they make more money daily that way, rather than go to the centres where they claim that they are not well fed.
Another respondent, Mr. Adebola Akanbi, explained that the begging has now become a profession: “Somebody brings some of these beggars from their respective states and recruits them into a begging team, where money realised is shared between their oga who brought them and the beggars. This oga is responsible for transporting them back to where they live.”
At the Karu spot, where these destitute people beg are children and nursing mothers, which makes one wonder who the fathers of the children are and the husbands of the women among them.
However, at the FCT Social Development Secretariat, the Acting Secretary, Ms Irene Elegbede, said they have evacuated 789 beggars and other social miscreants from the streets between 2015 to 2017 in Abuja.
According to her, majority of this number were repatriated back to their respective states after proper profiling and rehabilitation. She said over 400 received routine counselling, while 300 elderly persons received medical outreach, in addition to five capacity building programmes conducted by clients.
Elegbede further explained that there are regular provision of maternal material support for indigent persons upon delivery across the 15 government hospitals in the FCT