From Samuel Bello, Abuja
Most cripples in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) seem to have discovered a means of making themselves more relevant. They are now calling the shots at junctions where traffics are sometimes nasty.
Somehow this has taken the eyes of authorities off them. Before now, the leadership of Abuja would insist on cripples and beggars operating within the facilities provided for them by the government.
They now compliment the effort of traffic wardens at different points . The cripples discharge this unusual duty at
Banex junction, Wuse. They are daily seen controlling traffic . They take over from traffic wardens usually after the latter had retired for the day or are tired.
They are rewarded for their efforts. Some people give money to them and some words or sign of encouragement. Some residents park their car to chat with them too.
One of the physically challenged , who is married and identified himself as Sunny Abdullahi, said he decided to start controlling traffic when he saw the opportunity to make a living for himself by helping Abuja drivers get out peacefully in clustered junctions and not having to just beg on the roadside.
He disclosed that residents give him as much as 5,000 because they were maybe touched and felt his pain. He said they also give him words of advice and encouragement.
According to Abdullahi, “I have not always been this way. I was just at a wrong place at a wrong time inside a bush in Kano, where unfortunately for me suddenly got crippled by a terrestrial power. I was walking properly till the age of 14, I used to play football and some other sports until when I became the way I am today”
“I cannot beg because If i am caught begging, I would get arrested; if I am caught trading, my wares would be seized. I would just do this as a way of helping people and at the same time make money from generous people.”
He said his family resides in Kano because he cannot afford to stay in Abuja due to the high cost of accommodation.
Abdullahi added that he plans to make enough money the best way he can to have a book shop of his own in the nation’s capital.
His words: “I would like to have a book shop of my own where I can sell Pencils, Ball pens, Textbooks and many other educational materials. I did not go to school because my I lost my parents at a very young age and I have been fending for myself since then. But my prayer is I would have a book shop of my own and take care of my family comfortably by the grace of God.”
Aliyu Hamisu, a resident in Abuja who happened to be around the junction, had a chat with our correspondent, saying he had pity on the crippled men when he noticed them for the first time. He revealed that they are more than just two, noting that they come on different days like it was planned beforehand.
Hamisu said: “ These men that are here today are not the ones that were here yesterday. I don’t blame them because at least they are doing something productive by controlling traffic. They do this things voluntarily under the risk of getting run over by a drunk driver or a stupid person”
“Although they leave the arena when It is getting dark but what they are doing is still very risky especially in their condition. Some drivers might not be able to see them properly and that can lead to their deaths”