Can this policy be godly?
By Sam Soji Aduragbemi
May I be permitted to make my own few points on the issue of sending beggars to prison by Governor Fashola. The Bible recorded in Deuteronomy 15:11 thus, “For the poor shall never cease out of the land, therefore I command thee, saying thou shalt open thine hand wide into thy brothers to thy poor, and to thy needy in thy land”.
Helping and to be favourably disposed towards the poor and needy is mandatory. Now can we ask this question: Are these beggars Nigerians or foreigners? Are they gainfully employed or are they in the reformative homes and absconded to the street?
In our December 2012 Prayer Summit in Ilorin, we prayed a particular prayer-point that God should grant our leaders courage to look unto the Holy Hill of God so that they will receive godly, divine and people-oriented programmes and policies.
The beggars consist the blind, the lame and the jobless; even people of unsound mind. Has the government of Governor Fashola put into consideration that despite their state of nothingness, they have dependants, those who were being fed by the proceeds of their begging?
When the poor, who were made poor by the bad performance of our leaders who are still impoverished by the corruption of people in high places. For instance, many of our pensioners are beggars on the street because the PENCOM high benchers embezzled and converted their money to personal extravagance mode of living. And in return, these set of people are carted to prison for begging. Their God will ask our leaders: What is the sin of people who meritoriously served this nation and are subject to this double jeopardy.
These corrupt, wicked, reckless and oppressive men and women are living in opulence in places such as Maitama and Asokoro in Abuja, Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Victoria Garden in Lagos, enjoying their ill-gotten wealth, even as their victims are now carted to prison is a big oppression. So we need more prayers in this nation for God to intervene so that the poor may live.
This policy is against the verse of the Bible quoted at the beginning of this comment and it undermines the fundamental rights of the needy affected as entrenched in Chapter IV Section 33(1): “Every person has a right to life and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a count in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria. Section 34(1) a, b of Chapter IV also forbid guaranteed the dignity of these persons”.
If beggars who cannot afford their daily means of livelihood become criminals in the face of a law to make Lagos neat and clean, it is not godly, it is not people-oriented. It is an oppressive law. It is a contravention of their fundamental rights as citizens of Nigeria.
Government should first take palliative measures, let there be food on the table of every citizen without stress, give them quality education, good shelter before meaningful progress can be made in the direction of making Lagos beautiful and decent. It cannot be achieved in the face of hunger and lack of shelter.
If Governor Fashola could not tolerate the sight of the needy, poor and beggars, on the street of Lagos he should inquire further their origin and send them back to their country or states. This law is draconian.
The holy Bible says in Proverbs 31:9: “Open thy mouth, judge righteously and plead the cause of the poor and needy”. Proverbs 9:18 states, “For the needy shall not always be forgotten the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever”.
One day God will arise for the needy in this nation el-Rufai as much as I adopt some of his policies but it was a popular statement accredited to him that Abuja is not meant for all, so the poor should return to their villages.
The poor are not privileged to live in a decent environment. Umaru Dikko of the 2nd Republic said since the poor have not started eating from the dust bin, they are yet poor enough. Is the essence of governance to impoverish the poor? NO!
The poor are crying, says Psalm 40:17, “But I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinketh upon me; thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying O my God”. The poor and needy are the heartbeat of God. Let no man add to their problems. This is sheer oppression of the needy and poor in Lagos let there be a reconsideration of this policy to wear human face.
Pastor Sam Soji Aduragbemi wrote in from Abuja