From Christian Okwor
SINCE the nation’s economic recession progressed from technical to real life has become increasingly difficult for Nigerians. There is no doubt that the beggars are feeling the brunt as this class of people seems to most hit by the crunch because they live on alms.
Abuja has different categories of beggars: The cripple, lepers (also known as the kuturu), the blind, the street urchins (almajiri) and others. Some of them have devised strategies to mitigate the biting hardship. One of such who would not allow his physical challenge to weigh him down is 38-year-old cripple and a father of two, Yaya Ibrahim (a.k.a Action).
He believes a beggar should still add value to his environment; hence it has become his self- imposed duty to keep the Kubwa second pedestrian bridge clean on daily basis. For those who make use of the bridge, there is no missing the ever-neatly dressed cripple, whose broom does the magic for him.
From the savings from his routine duty, he was able to establish a provisions store for his wife in Kaduna State and also pays his children’s school fees. He told Daily Sun that he was not born with the condition; but discovered one fateful day while playing football with other children in primary school that the lower part of his body was getting weak.
He was taken from Niger State where the parents lived to a hospital in Kaduna, yet to no avail: “I am from Kaduna State, but I stay in Zuba. I normally come to this place to sweep this bridge because I was motivated by God. I am grateful to God that I am still alive. I want to challenge others who have similar case with me that they should find something doing, because that is the correct way of life.
“There are many things one can lay hands on and most importantly, keeping your environment
neat. It is good we have a clean environment because nobody likes to stay with a dirty person. From the little money I make, I pay my children’s school fees and also give some to my wife to boost her trade.”
Unlike the bespectacled Ibrahim whose weapon is his broom, a fe- male cripple at Area 1, Garki, who simply gave her name as Mrs. Lola, said her survival strategy is her beaming smile coupled with smart dressing and cute facial make-up.
Sitting very cheerfully on a wheel chair, with her little girl patting her on the back, Lola said though she is physically challenged, her mind is not: “I do little things to get little money.”
She did not however, give details of those little things she does to get money. But her strength no doubt is in her disarming smiles, which she wields as her unmistakable weapon.