Corporate Begging – A Fast Growing Profession In Lagos - The Naija Weekly

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Corporate Begging – A Fast Growing Profession In Lagos


Begging for alms has been a common sight on the streets of major cities of Nigeria for some time now. It is fast turning into an art of money-making venture or a vocation like all crafts requiring a high degree of tact and experience. Paradoxically, it is tax-free and to some extent less hazardous, hence the large number of practitioners.
Practitioners of vocational begging are adept in the arts of the trade; they know a bit of the psychology of the trade. They know that most Nigerians are benevolent and do not like to see others in trouble
Unarguably, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation with more than 170 million people out of which Lagos State boasts of 20 million inhabitants, thus making the City the nation’s biggest urban ­agglomeration.
Population surge in Lagos has largely occasioned by the influx of people from different parts of the country. Lagos has to contend with various socio-economic challenges peculiar to cities with exponential growth.
With the current economic situation in the country, the trend of begging in Lagos has now become quite worrisome with able-bodied men actively engaged in it. The increasing population of beggars in the Lagos metropolis has become an eyesore and the situation has become alarming because they now constitute environmental hazards as well as security threats. There have been instances when a few of these beggars were discovered to be agents of criminals.
Investigation revealed that most of those who indulge in street begging are mostly employable but jobless people who take to it as a better choice between two devils. They prefer begging to stealing or armed robbery. This is practically why these ‘executive or corporate’ beggars get patronage.
How can one explain the situation where well-dressed gentlemen and ladies (both among the youths, adolescents and adults) are very determined and quite intimidating in begging as a profession? They are available at almost every roadside in Lagos.
Unbelievably, there are individuals who own properties and are married yet they are beggars. Some are sane but they feign insanity and assumed deformity especially at night to attract sympathy while others sophisticatedly use the facade (e.g., the dark shade or eyeglasses) as a disguise.
But despite the resolve by the Lagos State government to clamp down on beggars soliciting for alms all over the roads, it appears beggars can’t just be caged, as they daily overwhelm motorists and pedestrians on major streets and roads with their harassing demands.
The practice is, however, contrary to Section 166, sub-section 1 (b) of the Lagos State Criminal Code, which prohibits street begging, with penalties for offenders.
Everywhere you go in Lagos, beggars await you; using different strategies, they gesture on you for one favour or the other. In some areas, you might be tempted to conclude that it is the only lucrative “business” in town. From the mainland to the island, they are on the streets, at every corner, on the major roads, under the flyovers, swarming around vehicles in traffic, and you can hardly miss them as they call on passersby to take pity on them.
Street begging and destitution in Lagos State remain unpleasant features, and various efforts by the government to exterminate them – including making it a criminal offence – remain largely futile
Findings revealed that besides the nuisance they constitute for the state, they also expose themselves to various risks, and – for those who use their infants and adolescents to generate income – are inadvertently guilty of child abuse.
It was gathered that child beggars are not always alone on the job, as some of their parents or bosses were found to be hiding at corners surreptitiously watching how well their wards were doing at the begging assignment.
At Ile-Epo Market in Agbado area of Lagos, begging takes place in different shades and forms. Three young men were seen dropping sick people, including the old and handicapped, in the middle of the busy Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway. They use sick people to attract the attention of passersby while soliciting alms.
But one thing that puts people off, according to residents, is how they display these sick people with nauseating wounds. Many of them are simply an eyesore. Diseases such as elephantiasis, prostate cancer, even severe burns and many other disgusting conditions and malodorous wounds are displayed to appeal to people and torment the emotions of passersby. Such scenes are common features at busy bus stops and other places across the state.

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