By Agboola Fesobi
Only a few people associate begging with advancement in life. But two septuagenarian beggars who spoke with The Hope, shared how the bitter end that life gave them, has surprisingly become something through which, as active family men, they are using to put food on the table.
Both men beg full-time in Akure and at regular intervals go back to their base. They rent a place in Akure and make thousand of naira weekly.
One of them, Mr Kayode Adeyemi, a 74- year-old man who hails from Usi Ekiti in Ido-Osi Local Government, Ekiti State, narrated what led him to begging for alms, saying his legs were amputated some years ago, and since then he could not farm or do any other job.
He worked with Nigeria River Basin Authority (Kwara State) as a security guard and explained that he got a loan to purchase a motorcycle and was meant to repay it via a monthly repayment plan.
But on a fateful day, he explained that he traveled to his home town to show them his newly bought motorcycle, and while coming back from Usi Ekiti to Omu -Aran, Kwara State where he resides, he had an accident and his two legs got smashed. Both legs were later amputated, leading to his present predicament.
After the accident, he said that he was taken to ECWA hospital, Omu-Aran to be cared for.
He added that since he did not have any other means of taking care of himself and the children, he decided to go into begging and whatever he realises is used to take of his family.”
According to him, one of his children is now a university graduate, having trained him from the proceeds of begging while the remaining four children are in the secondary school.
He said that he had also built a house in Omu-Aran with the money he realises from begging in Akure and has a wife.
The former security guard said he makes around two to three thousand naira daily and makes more money on weekends, during big events or cultural activities.
He, however, solicited for help from the government to raise his children so that they can make progress and be better placed in life, seeing that he is getting too old.
The other beggar, Mr Akanbi Jimoh is 78 years old and hails from Ilorin in Kwara state.
While speaking to THE HOPE, he explained that while he was still fit, he worked as a messenger at Missionary Hospital in Omu-Aran for 27 years before he was retired from service on health grounds in 2011.
His problem, which led to his dismissal from work, began when he contacted leprosy while working at the hospital. He admitted that though the management of the hospital treated him for the disease but he was eventually relieved of his duties.
He added that, moreso, age was no longer on his side, hence there were more than one ground on which his retirement was based, while explaining that it was after his retirement that he took to street begging.
“After the retirement, I couldn’t do anything again because I had overstayed at the organisation and had spent all my productive years there. My monthly pension is N3000 which is just N100 a day and this could not even feed a day old baby,” he narrated.
He lost his wife in 2011, and the marriage produced four children who, he said, are living in Ilorin. The only female among has gotten married and lives with her husband while others are still in secondary school.
He explained that after a day’s begging, he and his other fellow beggars go back to their jointly rented apartment.
He revealed that after spending three weeks in Akure, he would travel back to Omu- Aran and spend two weeks with his family.
He narrated that he used to make about one to two thousand naira daily and collects several gift items, like salt and clothes, from people who donate it to them, for some spiritual reasons.
Akanbi said, “I am not happy being involved in street begging. In fact, if i was told early in my life that I will end up begging, I would not believe it. But I was forced to do this since I had no option and because it’s better than stealing.”
He appealed to the government to pay attention to the plight of beggars and give them monthly stipends for food. He opined that this would drastically reduce the number of them on the street.