By Joke Adeniyi-Jackson
Large numbers of destitute and beggars have taken over major streets of Ilorin, Kwara State capital, National Pilot can report.
Findings revealed that most of them are from neighbouring states while others are non-Nigerians from Niger Republic.
Among them are kid beggars whose parents stay at a distance to monitor them as they solicit alms from motorists and passengers.
The beggars are found along the stretch of Taiwo Road, Offa Garage, Maraba, Oja-Oba, Post Office, Geri-Alimi, Unity and Challenge area among other places.
Further findings showed that the destitute have infiltrated residential areas within the metropolis and taken over uncompleted buildings and abandoned property.
Some cripples are also regularly sighted in traffic on major roads and at Automated Teller Machine points begging for alms.
Cross section of residents who spoke to this medium over the weekend expressed their displeasure over the development, which according to them is causing security concern.
A resident of Geri-Alimi, Mallam Akeem Abdullahi, described the presence of beggars in the area, which is the gateway to the state as an eyesore.
“First impression matters, the presence of these dirty and unkempt destitute and beggars in a place like this will portray bad image of the state to first time visitors.
“The beggars have turned Geri-Alimi to their haven since the construction of the Diamond Split Underpass commenced. Despite the risk of being crushed by vehicles, they line up the road on daily basis,” he added.
Lending a voice, a trader at Taiwo road, Mr. Theophilus Ezeonu, who noted that the beggars constitute public nuisance, said it is unfortunate that they have found their way back to the metropolis.
“These beggars harass people around here; they embarrass our customers by tugging at their clothes while they beg for money.
“It is sad that there is influx of beggars in Ilorin again at a time when we thought lasting solution has been found to the social menace,” he further said.
Also, a resident of Olorunsogo, Hajia Halima Ahmed decried the preponderance of beggars in residential areas, which she said is an unwelcome development.
While expressing concern over security threat posed by presence of beggars in the state, she called on government to arrest the situation.
“It is obvious that the beggars are not from this state going by their physical features and this should ordinarily generate concern given activities of insurgents in some parts of the country,” she lamented.
In her reaction to the situation, the state Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Ayinke Saka, who acknowledged the influx of destitute into the state, said paucity of funds have hindered their repatriation.
“Raiding and repatriation of beggars require huge funds and this cannot be carried out for now because the state has financial challenge, which is however not peculiar to Kwara but a global issue,” she explained.
According to her, the Ministry is in need of service vehicles and other logistics to effectively carry out repatriation exercise.
The Commissioner stated that the exercise is long overdue, a situation which has given rise to the large numbers of destitute who migrated from other parts of the country to Kwara State.
She also alleged that the state has become dumping ground of destitute and beggars by other states because of its centrality, while noting the negative impact of the social menace on the state.
“We have made efforts at the ministry at evacuating beggars and lunatics from our streets. The setting up of a taskforce recently is geared towards achieving this aim,” she furthered.
She, however, assured that the state Governor, Alhaji Abdulfattah Ahmed would do the needful as soon as the state is financially buoyant, while decrying situations where the physically challenged who were provided with mobility aids resort to begging with the wheelchairs.