Street begging and destituting in Lagos State remain unpleasant features, and various efforts by the government to exterminate them – including making it a criminal offence – remain largely ineffective.
However, following some recent progress recorded in their endeavour to curb the menace, the state government has reemphasised its commitment to removing beggars and destitute persons from the major roads and streets. The Lagos State Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Pharma (Mrs) Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf shared the numbers from the monthly report on the issue which reveals a total of 124 beggars and destitute persons were taken off the streets in the last month.
Some of the ‘extracted’ currently face prosecution from the state for committing offences stated under the provisions of the Lagos State criminal law which as applies to them. Others will be placed in rehabilitation and training centres established by the government to accommodate them.
The population of this set of less-privileged persons continues to rise in Lagos, with able-bodied and disabled women, children, and men crowding streets and roads seeking alms. The ongoing displacements in the northern region of the country, brought about by the activities of the terrorist group Boko Haram, also contribute to the existing social menace which already comprises mostly of northerners.
Due to the problem, alms-giving has also become a normal sight in Lagos. But, while the sympathy of alms-givers is understandable, in reality, the act does little to solve the problem of these beggars and destitute members of society. They simply return to the same spots every day with their situation unimproved.
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.
Therefore, as part of the measures to rid the city of the menace, Commissioner Akinbile-Yussuf urges Lagosians to utilise registered charity homes and other such similar establishments for alms-giving, in order to help the state address the problem satisfactorily.