On that November afternoon, I was waiting for a friend somewhere around UI main gate. She arrived and we sauntered to somewhere we could find a shed.

As we were discussing some issues, I espied three boys as they scampered to a middle-aged man that sat some yards away from us. They left the man and dashed to where we sat. One of the boys, I would later identify as Kehinde, interrupted our discussion. I glared at him because l knew what they had come for — alms.

I chose to interrogate these hapless lads that stood carelessly before me because I had found out that the number of children that beg for money and food on UI campus is on the increase.

“You what is your name?” I pointed to the one that had a wild look of indigenous street boys. He was on red jersey and dirty shorts, and was the shortest among the boys. “Toheeb”. It took him many seconds to reply.

“What of you?” I pointed to the one with the appearance of a well fed chap, he kept a finger on his lip and smiled fervently like December Sun. Hastily he replied. “Taye”. He pointed to his bashful twin brother. He called him Kehinde. Although, they are fraternal twins but they had the same height. Toheeb was nine and the twins were eight. “They are too young for this pernicious lifestyle,” I said to my friend who was perusing the matter.

“Why do you beg for money?” I directed my question to Toheeb. He looked at the other boys as though to seek answers from them. “My mother is sick,” he began, “I don’t have anyone to give me food,” he replied. I fixed my gaze on his head with pity.

“She has been sick for how long and who are you living with?” One of the twins fixed his eyes one the tarred road that runs into the campus, as though trying to figure out someone to run to for alms. Toheeb told us he did not know how long his mother had been on the sickbed. He said that he was living with his sister, who would never give him food. My friend was shocked when she heard what Toheeb said with ease.

Toheeb is lying, he can’t be saying the truth, I thought within me. I didn’t doubt what my mind was saying. My friend didn’t believe him, she was not convinced. They are trained liars. “Kehinde, am I right?” he nodded as I pointed to him. I continued, “Why do you beg for money?” Kehinde looked at me surlily and replied, “Our mother is sick.” I was dazed. My friend was perplexed.

“Taye, I know you will say the truth, don’t lie to me, where are your parents?” He stared at me, but he did not speak. I beheld Taye as he fondled his lips. I observed his tongue was somewhat red. His tongue looked like a wall smeared with red paint. “What happened to your tongue?” Toheeb chose to answer the question, “It is Chapman. He drank Chapman with jollof rice.” Taye did not refute, though his face sent serious warning to Toheeb. “He drank Chapman too, two Chapman.” Taye mumbled. My friend laughed.

“Toheeb, what of your father?” He looked around searching for words in the eyes of the other boys. I knew he would lie again. “My father is in Lagos…” He replied with many stories. The twins’ story was different when I asked about their father. They said many things that touched my heart, perhaps, my friend too. Taye later told me their mother was not sick, he said that Toheeb had told them to lie about their parents. He told us their mother was a cleaner at a bank; she went to work early in morning and returned when the bank closed. “Our mother gives us Ten naira to school.” Kehinde said vehemently, when I asked him how much their mother gives them to school. Taye said their mother used to give them Twenty Naira. He added that their mother gives them food to school. I was worried about their different answers.

“Let me sound a note of warning to you boys, but before I do, let me ask if you know the evil things begging for money can bring to your lives?” They did not know. I knew they couldn’t. “Many people are out there looking for children like you to use for rituals.” I paused to ensure that my words were sinking into their heads. “Do you want them to use you for rituals?” I asked them one after the other and they reluctantly said no.

Someone I knew so well joined us at the peak of the interrogation. He said many things about the children that are now earning living on the streets. He glared at the boys, “Do you know that Seyi Makinde’s soldiers will arrest children like you roaming on the streets begging for money?” They did not say a word. Then he continued, “Do you want your mothers to be disgraced by Seyi Makindes soldiers?” He pointed to Taye. “Me I don’t want Seyi Makindes dogs to disgrace my mother.” He exclaimed. I wondered why he had called them dogs.

I sighed; “I want you to say after me” I instructed them. “I will not beg for money again. Toheeb couldn’t say it confidently. The other boys did, convincingly. “I will not use my hands to put my parents to shame.” They chorused.

Never again should I see anyone of you begging for money, I will visit you soon. They said some things about where their houses were located. After series of warnings, they went away.

Few weeks later, I met Toheeb along Chapel road. His legs were caked with dust. He had returned to his business. But I am yet to see the twins on UI campus.

Writer’s opinion

Only words and warnings won’t suffice to let the boys return home and never step their feet on the streets begging for alms again. But effective actions by parents, guardians and Government will curb this way of life that is rampant in all parts of Nigeria. From what I heard from the boys, I deduced that they lacked proper monitoring. Nigeria is facing myriad of challenges, abject poverty, poor education system, and people’s resentment towards family planning, amongst others. All these contribute to child-begging.

However, parents are to blame for the beggars their children are turning to. Most of these children are discontented, they want what their parents or guardians can’t afford. Regardless of this, improper monitoring, inadequate parental care, and peer group influence amongst others also make children resort to begging. Children that are not  well brought up, well educated, unarguably, are disastrous problem to the society, in fact, they are problem to themselves.

The attitude and behaviour of children to the society are affected by this horrendous lifestyle. Parents and guardians should strive not to fail to play their role in shaping their children to useful adults. Government should ensure that all these children roaming hopelessly on the streets of Nigeria should be catered for. The consequences of leaving children to their lots are obvious in Northern Nigeria. However, terrorist group like Boko Haram recruits these children and turn them into instruments of death that might come to haunt us all. And if this problem is not dealt with, we should know the consequences.

Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry
Did you enjoy this story? Then pay a tip to subscribe to their email list and get premium, exclusive content from them

What do you think?

  1. This is indeed the truth. Most of the child beggars perceive begging as a means of making money. They’re not actually abandoned completely as they appear to be.

    1. It is a sad thing, and this begging thing by small children is getting alarming day by day. These kids now see it as a source of income and it is as if most of us are not bothered

%d bloggers like this: