Hundreds of beggars, under the aegis of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, on Monday stormed the Government House, Kaduna, demanding the withdrawal of the anti-begging law until Governor Nasir el-Rufai fulfils his campaign promises.
The law, passed by the state house of assembly, has since been assented to by the governor, and is awaiting implementation. The beggars were however prevented from gaining entry into the premises of the Government House by security operatives, who on spotting them, quickly mobilised themselves. The operatives stationed an Amoured Personnel Carrier at the entrance a few meters away from the main gate, while armed policemen who arrived in eight Hilux vans took strategic positions around the premises with a view to forestalling outbreak of law and order. However, the beggars, during the protest, lamented that the governor was yet to keep his campaign promise he made to them in 2015 that if elected he would make adequate arrangement for their upkeep before banning street begging.
Their spokesperson, Muntari Sale, expressed dismay over the nonchalant attitude he said the governor and lawmakers exhibited towards people living with disability and vowed not to relent in their efforts until the governor fulfilled his promise.
“We demand that the governor of the state, Malam Nasir El-Rufai and members of the State House of Assembly to fulfil the promises they made to us during their campaign while seeking for votes from us,” he said.
“The Governor promised us that he will not ban street begging until he makes adequate arrangement for our upkeep and welfare. “He promised that 30 per cent of our members would be giving employment anytime the state government has a programme running which has not been met, he also promised to provide for the sick, educate our children and employ those in different skills with a view to easing the suffering of the people living with disability.”Mr. Sale recounted that the same law submitted by the governor to the legislature had been enacted in Kano, Edo, Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory, but that it did not work. Stating that begging was their only means of livelihood, he stressed that the law would not work in Kaduna because the state government had not made adequate arrangement for thebeggars.
He said, “This law was passed in Kano, Edo and Lagos states as well as the FCT and they did not succeed, the government has not made adequate arrangements for us and yet it wants to ban usfrom our only source of livelihood.
“We are human beings like everyone, the way everybody is delivering children, that is the same way we are, the way people marry is the way we marry and the way parents try to educate their children is the same way we try to educate ours.
“He promised to employ our children, unfortunately, he has employed people in the Kaduna State Traffic and Environmental Law Enforcement Agency (KASTELEA), but none of our children were employed. He also employed street sweepers and none of our children were employed. They employed women to cook food for state schools the school feeding programme, yet none of our wives or children have benefited.
“The way every individual used their thumb to voted for El-Rufai, that is the way people living with disability also voted for him, including the deaf, dumb, blind and cripples.”
Mr. Sale called for the removal of the present Special Assistant to the Governor on Disability, saying he was responsible for their predicaments. He accused the governor’s aide of not fighting for the cause of the people living with disability. The Special Assistant to the Governor on Stakeholders, Abdullahi Bayero, who received the beggars, explained that the governor could not meet them in person because he was in a meeting. He appealed to them to be patient. Mr. Bayero further asked them to select five representatives that would table their demandsto the state governor since all of them could not be allowed into the Government House for security reasons.