They Refused to Beg for a Living

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Umar Hadoro, Aminu Sani, Sanusi Adamu and Tukur Lawal are physically-challenged Nigerians who, rather than seize on their physical infirmities to beg for a living, took to selling bric-a-brac at the popular Wuse Market in the heart of Abuja, the nation’s capital.In this riveting piece,AYODELE ABIMBOLA, GBONGBON NANCY,LIMAN DORCAS and KELECHI OLUIGBO tell the quartet’s stirring stories.

Nigerians with one form of disability or the other who eke out a living begging for alms are ubiquitous in all towns and cities across the country. Cutting across all ethnic and religious groups, these hard-pressed citizens are often found in road traffic, motor-parks, marketplaces and street corners braving the elements and beseeching passers-by for hand-outs.

Despite the harsh economic realities in the country, kind-hearted Nigerians often oblige these less-fortunate citizens with cash and other gifts, making some of the physically challenged quite able to get by in life and, according to some accounts, even better than many fit folks.

This “lucrative” lore of begging has not gone unnoticed among the fraudulent in the country, as some physically fit but lazy and unscrupulous citizens can even be found either faking infirmity or making up sob stories to beg for alms.

However, despite the ease of seizing on their disabilities to take to begging, Mallam Umar A. Hadoro, Aminu Sani, Sanusi Adamu and TukurLawalhave opted to earn their keep by selling assorted goods on the walkway adjourning Kassim Ibrahim Road opposite the busy Wuse Market in the capital city, Abuja.

Hadoro, who sells children’s toys in the shades of a small tree on the walkway, told LEADERSHIP Weekend that he hailed from Katsina state where he was born in 1981.

The married father of three became paralysed at the age of three in the course of a debilitating fever and currently goes by with the use of a skateboard.

An urbane citizen who had travelled across the country despite his physical challenge, Hadoro is currently pursuing a university degree course in Abuja.

He said: “I had my primary school education in Katsina state at TaririnKuka Primary School. I started my junior secondary school in Katsina and finished up at Dolphin Secondary School, Lagos. Currently, I am an undergraduate student at the University of Abuja. I am studying for a degree in English Language by distance learning.

Hadoro said he took to trading rather than begging “to earn self-respect. Also, I wouldn’t want a situation where my wife, children and friends will see me begging. They will not be happy about it. Moreover, when they see me struggling to fend for them instead of begging, it serves as a source of encouragement to them. Whenever I realise enough money from my sales, I buy things home for my children and wife. I feed and clothe myself and family through this.

While his infirmity poses some challenges to him in the course his day-to-day activities, especially selling toys by the wayside,Hadoro said he was particularly happy that “people appreciate what I do and they patronise me. Also, whenever environmental officials come to chase people who sell, they spare me.”

How does Hadoro get through school with the high cost of education these days? “A man in Lagos usually sends me money to pay my school fees while I buy hand-out from the money I realise from my business,” a beaming and appreciative Hadoro told LEADERSHIP Weekend.

Mallam Sani sells hair bonds and scarfs near Hadoro at the same Wuse market walkway in Abuja. An alumnus of the Islamic Academy in his home state, Kebbi, the single sani has been in the business for five years.

This Argungu-born physically challenged Nigerian trained as a welder but had to quit the trade “due to the tasking nature of the job.”

Instead of taking to begging though, Sani opted to trade.

He said: “To me, begging is not good. When I see someone who is physically challenged like myself begging for alms, I liaise with others to raise money for such a person to start a business if he or she is interested.”

Like Hadoro, Sani said passers-by appreciated his choice of livelihood and patronised him “rather than embarrass me.”

Although Sani, who was born with his disability, has not taken to educating himself in the western sense and would rather accept help “to nurture my business,”he funds his brother’s education.

“My father is late while my mother is alive. I have a brother whose school fees I pay with my sales here. He is schooling in Kebbi State Polytechnic,” Sani disclosed.

Mallam Adamu, a 29-year-old citizen from Birnin Kebbi local government in Kebbi state became physically-challenged through a road mishap nine years ago on his way to school. He now sells underwear, socks, hand towel and handkerchiefs on the Wuse walkway.

Adamu said: “I attended Duko Primary School and Islamic school in Kebbi state.I sell to earn self- respect. At first, I took to begging because I had nothing to do. Later on, I started selling things from the money I saved from begging.My parents gave birth to nine children and I am the firstborn of the family. My mother is alive.Because there was nothing to eat, I started this business to feed the family.”

Unlike the duo of Hadoro and Sani, officialdom had once caught up with Adamu at Wuse as his goods were seized by “environmental officials” who often raid the walkways around the market to dislodge street traders.

Adamu’s thirst for western education is palpable on his amiable face. “Yes I would like to go back to school if I find a benevolent sponsor,” he said.

Twenty-Five-year-old MallamLawal is a married father of two children. Lawal’s left leg became paralysed following an awry injection administered on him when he was eleven years old.

Like Adamu, Lawal initially started out as a beggar.

He said: “I was into begging initially. I used the money I realised from beggingto set up this business. I sell wrist bands, purse, identification card holder, key holder and stationeries.I came from Katsina to get something doing in order to feed myself because I couldn’t fend for myself in Katsina. I opted for begging first and due to the harassment from environmental officials, I set up my own business.”

Lawal, who has not given up on his ambition to bag a university degree someday, urged the three tiers of government “to provide jobs for physically challenged people in order to take them off the street, instead of harassing them through raids and removal to their states of origin.”


In : Abuja

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