[The Legislative Blog]: Let’s talk a bit about street begging now that the Senate is interested

“Sister, i’m going to Mushin and i lost my wallet. Can you please help me with 100 naira?”

This is the same line that we’ve had to listen to from the lot of beggars on the streets of Lagos but these ones are on an entirely different level. They are the professionals.

With street begging in Nigeria, there are levels. Even the dynamic singing couple, Tunde and Wunmi Obe dedicated a track to the categories of beggars we have in the society. When begging comes up in any discourse, the first picture that mostly comes to mind is Northerners, ablebodied and disabled alike, who litter the streets chanting prayers, with their bowls outstretched for the benevolence of their target customers, which is basically everyone walking the streets.

There’s equally a large number of criminals who pose as beggars, gain access to unsuspecting passersby then launch attacks on them robbing them of their valuables and even body parts, in the most fatal cases.

Then, there’s the group of Lebanese kids who are sent out by their parents to fend for themselves, they’re the scrawny kids who tug at your clothes on the streets and ask for anything you can offer, even if it’s the bottle of half-drunk Pepsi in your hand. Anything to fill their stomachs and keep them alive.

It is needless to reiterate that street begging is a menace in most Nigerian cities.

But help has come (or so it seems).

Senator Isah Misau, representing Bauchi Central in the Upper Chamber, moved the motion to curb the menace of street begging and proposed the rehabilitation of street beggars. The motion received support from other House members including, Senator Danjuma Goje who cited the need for enlightening the populace on the “misconception that begging is allowed within some religious circles”.

The senate made mention mostly of ridding the FCT of beggars and reintegrating Almajiris into the educational system. The FCT, Almajiris…two Northern elements.

How about the rest of the country? If the Senate is going to win with this move, then it has to include every part of Nigeria in the bill.

On the flipside of things, the Senate seems not to have answered any questions about providing any palliative measures for street beggars who are in the situation because they have no alternative source of survival.

Is the Senate proposing a partnership with NGOs and charity organisations to take up the responsibility of rehabilitating these beggars?

We may have established that street begging is a menace that needs to go but we also demand a well thought-out plan in dealing with this problem entirely.

Street begging is the implication of financial, social and economic defects in societies and these root causes should be tackled before we face the victims. Whatever their level or category, street beggars are victims of the decay in the society.

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