By Kangmwa Gofwen
I am through with my secondary education, I finished in 2007 and I wish to go to the university but lack of funds has pushed me and others here. Someone who has no food to eat cannot be thinking of school. If I had the chance to further my education, I want to be a medical doctor. I want this so that I can render medical help to my people which they usually do not have.”
These were the words Shamsudin Lawali, a physically challenged beggar in the Oluyole Estate area of Ibadan, Oyo State. Lawali, who spoke in Hausa language on behalf of some of his companions, said they were begging on the streets because they lacked support from the government to actualise their dreams. He said despite being bona fide Nigerian citizens, they had suffered negligence from the government.
“We thank God that we usually have what to eat but what we do not have is support from the government and we are citizens. We’re supposed to be treated like every other citizen. Our parents, grandparents and great grandparents were born in this country. We physical challenged expect to have a stake in the government or have support coming from the government.”
Lawali said they were thankful to God and the people that usually stopped by to give them alms, out of which they send to their families whom they left behind in Sokoto State.
“We are grateful to God because he always uses some good people that are passing by to stop and help us with food and money through which we survive on, but government officials would pass here with their cars but none of them would stop to give assistance in any way.
“We left our families behind in the north; it is whatever we get that we send to them back home so imagine if we had our businesses or hand work we wouldn’t have had to depend on anyone to get our daily bread,” he said.
Lawali said people believe that cripples cannot engage in business or any form of trade. He, however, said they beg because they cannot fund their dreams adding that if given the opportunity, they can prove themselves.
“They said we do not engage in business or any menial jobs but it is the lack of funds to engage in these things that is stopping us. I assure you that if we get financial support, we will not be begging on the streets we can do anything, and any kind of business.”
He called on government to support the needy as it is part of its responsibility. He said government officials will give account of their stewardship in the future while emphasising that beggars are peace loving people.
“So, we are calling on the government to fear God and support the needy because there will come a day when God will ask them to account for their stewardship. We have been here for about 17 years; we always mind our business. Those that have something to give us, they come and go, we are peace loving people.
“Like I said, we want to go back to school or start a business. If the government can provide us with grants or scholarships we will be really glad. If you ask any of the others here, they will tell you the same thing,” he added.
Talking about the today’s presidential election, Lawali told Saturday Tribune that he and others could not travel back to the north where they are registered to vote, because of the naira scarcity and they do not have bank accounts. According to him, this has hindered them from getting money from people who have requested for their bank accounts to make transfers.
“We could not travel for the elections because of the cash scarcity. It has not been easy and we do not have bank accounts. In fact people no longer give us alms because of the same issue, some of them even ask us for our bank accounts to make transfer but none of us has a bank account.”
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