By Issa Ahmed Babatunde
Who would imagine that ‘Beggars’ could contribute to the GDP of a country, the attempt to make begging taxable shows the government have successfully turned serial dreams killer creating an industry out of abject poverty.
No one would be left out as the finance Minister as stated, beggars are earning millions and the proceeds from begging are taxable, so if your means of income is Begging you are supposed to pay tax.
Suffice to say that begging which used to be a means of living for the less privileged and defaulted nationals is vast becoming so financially attractive and legitimate in a world of almost 200 million populace living below two dollars daily with larger percentage being youths, describes the diminishing and devastating state of the nation, turning people into all sorts of things to earn a living.
Many have turned to this worrisome trendy habit of Enterpreneurship which is believed easy to set up, as the streets has been flooded with an army of beggars in order to survive due to the failure of the government though developed countries are also masked with this challenges but our own society has favoured and encouraged this act as a means of survival.
Beggars vary so as their reasons and motives but one common modus operandi is their strategic positioning, which is most prevalent anywhere that is busy. This includes important monuments, railway stations, religious and spiritual sites, shopping districts and at major traffic intersections where they approach vehicles while the lights are red.
The fact that location is of paramount to this act means the biggest cities around the world are the major victims hit by the socio-economic implications of begging, depleting the environmental status and exposing the city to different forms of contaminations, Lagos falls in such radar.
The country is under developed though but Lagos is proving to be one of those places that can launch and lure more tourists and business activities as it’s striving to be a mega city.
Lagos is a Mecca for hustlers, which is why it is a target for many, a melting pot of all tribes but a particular tribe known for alms collection keeps trooping in only to be wandering the streets to beg, some with defections and many with deceptions but both turning out to be stigmatised to that act as its fetching them a lot, one time a governor of the state did a massive swept of the state arresting beggars and sending them back to their states but they(beggars) keep coming back just like the sun appears every day .
After many realised alms collectors were pampered and becoming financially buoyant, lots of lazy, unemployed, less privileged, disabled and other reasons which will never be enough reason to stigmatised to begging flocked the act massively.
Despite the economic growth in Lagos with plenty of opportunities to tap many able bodied youths turned beggars riddled the streets, they are everywhere and they come in different categories if care is not taken the Beggar-Prenuership might find its way to the stock market as the act is presently facing a lot of rebranding and packaging, in fact it’s no longer begging its extortion or coning!
They approach with lots of, courtesy sympathy, persistency and are very consistent, coming up with different kind of stories, people can’t just but give them whatever is on them, some look so good and well dressed that even the giver is ashamed of given out a little amount but they(beggars) will tell you “nothing is too small” and atimes people go extra mile of taking them to the ATM machine just to grant their wishes after hearing their tales, they are the high classed beggars who either lose their wallets, missed their ways, dint meet their family or friends they came to visit, job searchers, or they were robbed and some will even claim of paying back.
They are the highest class of beggars called corporate beggar, they are organized bodies that take different forms to appeal to people, some claim of having health issues, inability to pay bills such as school fees while some bring infants which only God knows where they rent them from claiming it theirs but lack money to feed themselves benchmarking the old set up of begging but can’t side line them because those ones even have well-known locations such Kano Street at Ebute-meta, Agege railway station is flooded with beggars low class or old form of beggars which are the regular ones
This doesn’t dispute the facts that people need help, anyone can really be in need of others regardless of your social status but should not be relied upon as a way of life, you can’t even stop Nigerians from giving alms who does it for various reasons either spiritually or out of pity but the right people and channel should get it and not those who are Able-bodied who can fetch for themselves.
Whatever good that is intended if it is in wrong hands it is as bad as doing bad, we cannot let poverty turn us to criminals, fraudsters or conmen, so for the sake of our economy and society we need to defect this form of source of income and not make an industry out of it by improve earnings of various government workers and private institutions in order to curb the menace on our streets.
The urgent establishment of a Rehabilitation Centre is necessary for those with disabilities and other health issues so that they can be properly taken care, as well avoid the risk of exposing others to it, this will also prevent them from relegating the society while the young ones who are always shouting Baba Alaye (my chairman Sir! with their thick voice) find us something should be trained by acquiring a particular skill that can earn them a living in order not to put them in positions of being recruited by criminals as an armoury or top man on the field.
Issa Ahmed Babatunde is a Public Affairs Analyst.