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Shehu Sani faults moves to outlaw begging, blames politicians for poverty

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Civil rights activist and former representative of Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Shehu Sani has blamed poverty and begging in the North to the social injustices and failure of political leaders to provide good governance.

In a statement issued yesterday, he noted that the poverty ravaging the country, especially the North and which has turned many people to beggars could not be addressed strictly through legislation.

Criticising moves by some northern states to outlaw begging, he said, “Begging in the Northern part of Nigeria is a direct result of poverty, neglect, social, cultural and religious factors combined.” He also argued that religious leaders sanctify begging by giving it a divine interpretation and reverence and that political leaders generate beggars by impoverishing the people, pointing out that it was an illusion to imagine a society without beggars in a nation strangulated by social injustice and systemic poverty.

“The Northern political leaders should understand that it’s impossible to compose a paradise without beggars in a hell they created over the years. Beggers are tragic victims and direct result of a nation failed by its successive governing elites. You can’t end begging without ending poverty and illiteracy,” he stated.

Noting that it was an aberration for a government to enact a law against begging, Sani added, “You can arrest beggars, but you can’t end begging as long as the social, cultural, political and economic factors that contribute to begging exist.

“Many states in the country in the last 20 years tried to criminalise begging, but they failed. They used beggars to win elections and demonise their opponents and now want to criminalise them.

“We should ask ourselves and find answers, why should we the Hausa control the political levers in the country for long and still remain the poorest in the country?

“Crude oil has not enriched the people of the Niger Delta and political power has neither brought wealth nor peace in the North. Education, employment, empowerment and boldly confronting cultural and social factors that aid and abet begging are the right steps to take. ”“Arresting and jailing beggars amounts to hiding our problems and not solving them.”


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Shehu Sani
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