In highly religious Nigeria, begging is a very lucrative business. Even if you are not handicapped in any way, once you are shameless and can get some dirty clothes, you are good to go. An average beggar in Nigeria can make up to N5,000 daily, even more on a Friday in areas where Muslim faithful observe Jumah. This explains the anger of beggars in Kaduna State that were banned from begging by Governor Nasir el-Rufai.
According to the beggars, they made enough money from their ‘work’and used part of it to support his campaign. They therefore vowed to bring down his government should he insist on stopping their livelihood without providing them any alternative.
The beggars addressed the Press in Kaduna through the leadership of the State Beggars Association. They noted that if they knew that the former FCT Minister would stop begging without caring about beggars’ welfare afterwards, they would never have voted him in the first place.
“I want to swear on my honour that I personally used my proceeds from begging to canvass for the support of El Rufai,” Mallam Yahaya Makaho, a visually challenged person who spoke on behalf the group said. “I used my money to mobilise for his support both on the streets and where I usually teach my students. And I am not alone in my group that made that sacrifice.
“We decided to support El Rufai, because we were tired of the then Governor, (Mukhtar Ramalan Yero) who did not show any regards to our survival. We worked hard, spent money and prayed and God heard our prayers and brought down Yero.
“Now, it would appear that we made a mistake. The new governor wants to bring us down. He does not want us to live. He has chased us out of the streets and has made no alternative arrangement for our survival.
“Look, some of us here have between three and four wives and many children. How can you lock such a man, who must resort to begging because he has found himself incapable of doing any other thing?
“We are asking the governor to rescind this decision now or find ways to meet our basic needs.
“If he refuses to heed to this demand, we shall make sure we bring down his government. We are not going to pray that he dies, even if he wishes us so. We are not going to say that he should be impeached, because we voted him to power. What we will do is to hand him over to the Almighty God, and we know he will remove him the same way he removed the former person. We are servants of God, and he always hear our cry,” he said.
El Rufai’s position has always been that terrorists use beggars and hawkers to perpetrate attacks and avoiding such in the state was his reason for banning begging.