Residents of Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, have decried the increase in the number of the beggars on the streets.
The beggars include able-bodied youth, artisans, old women, pregnant women, civil servants and children who lurk around commercial centres in the city to survive the economic hardship in the country.
Investigations revealed that these beggars, including ‘corporately dressed’ people, now hang around strategic places in the metropolis, especially ATM points, to beg for financial assistance.
A trader at the open market at Yoruba Road, Tayo Ibikunle, told PREMIUM TIMES that the menace of begging needs to be addressed urgently by the government before it gets out of hand.
“In the past, those we used to see around the market and by the roadside were physically challenged beggars but these days, there are many able bodied men and women begging people for money. The situation is pathetic,” she said.
A postgraduate student of the University of Ilorin, Elufowora Lateef, also lamented the situation, calling on government at all levels to find lasting solution to the economic situation in the country.
“In Ilorin, almost everyone is now a beggar. At ATM points, motor parks, food canteens, mosques, churches, almost everywhere,” he said.
A civil servant, who pleaded anonymity, revealed that the economic recession is a major contributor to the menace of street begging in the metropolis. He said the situation is made worse by the non-payment of workers’ salaries. He said,
“Things are hard and people are suffering. The government needs to do something,” he said.
“Many of these ‘corporate beggars’ you see around are civil servants who have not been paid their salaries for months. They are suffering and dying.”
Another trader at Challenge electronics market, Chibuzor Ezeh, decried what he called the ‘highhandedness’ of the beggars.
He revealed that many of the beggars even resort to harassment and intimidation when begging for money.
“These ‘corporate beggars’ have become desperate; when you tell them you don’t have money these days, they will harass you in public.
“The implication of this sad development is that this economic recession is real. The situation of things in this country is really bad and something must be done by our government because the people are very hungry,” he said.
Investigations by our correspondent revealed that the worst hit areas in the metropolis include Challenge, Post Office, Tipper Garage, Geri-Alimi, Oja Oba, Murtala way and Maraba.