Street urchins: The breeding of insecurity in Nigeria

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By Jimoh Abdullahi

Nigeria is currently suffering from the excruciating pain occasioned by insecurity, in one way or the other. Like a whirlwind, it blows back and forth and leaves no one untouched. It affects public officials, civil servants, traditional rulers, students, pupils, business tycoons whatever the status or occupation. In fact, the tendrils of the chaos is nurtured by all of us, why? It is because everybody minds his own business and shows no concern for the welfare of others. 

George Bernard Shaw once said in his dramatic text “Devil’s Disciple”  that “The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them but to be indifferent to them; that is the essence of inhumanity”. The situation is not confined to only Nigeria, as it is an ubiquitous phenomenon. 

For instance, in Africa, Ghana has about 30, 000 street children, almost a million in Egypt, Ethiopia has 30, 000; Kenya has between 250,000 and 300,000 not to talk of Tanzania, Cape Town, etc – an estimation from the consortium of street children revealed. Another statistics from the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) also estimated them to be 30 million.

The aforementioned figures are similar to those of Asia and Latin America and even some developed countries like USA, Britain and Canada also share in the nasty conditions. Although, what gives rise to the problem is very complex in nature but the certain ones cannot escape parental irresponsibility, displacement by war, poverty, parental divorce, parental death and a host of others. 

You will see them sleeping on the pavements under the bridge spreading their calico sheets, cardboard boxes or on the bare ground cuddling the cold weather of the night and listening to the humming tone of the blood sucking mosquitoes. They do not have particular luggage other than plastic bags, broken retail, trolleys, sacks symbolising lives on the move. With that, they are ready to do any kind of job that comes their way. But begging for money to eat is majorly their practices. 

Northern Nigeria:A proper reflection unravels the hidden root of the Northern region as the epicenter of Boko Haram/ISWAP, bandits/kidnappers, insurgents’ activities which make it a war zone. The almajiri system that exists in the North, which has been roundly criticised by some public analysts, literary and nonliterary scholars in form of writing and speech, is yet to stop. It entails bearing several children and place them under the tutelage of an Islamic cleric without making necessary provision for them especially males. These children will then be forced to be begging or looking for remnants food around due to severe hunger. 

As that degenerative and embarrassing menace continues, it then opens the door of opportunity for the political gamblers and unpatriotic bastardly rich traitors. Has anybody ever pondered on where the Boko Haram/ISWAP get the people they recruit? How do they seem unconquerable despite relentless efforts of the Nigerian military? An investigative report covered by the “New York Times” on the repentant Boko Haram unveils what leads some to join the bloodbath sect.  

Southeastern and the Western Nigeria:The major insecurity challenges facing these regions are; ritualism/kidnapping, and armed robbery/cultism. The youngsters in the street and slum dwellers are largely less immune to the eagle watch of the cultists/armed robbers who want theses naive young people to join them so as to use them as instruments to perpetrate their various nefarious operations. 

On July 2017, an 11-year-old boy was rescued and rehabilitated by the Tony Rapu-led God Bless Nigeria/Freedom Foundation from the street of Lagos with Shanawole sobriquet. On the circulated video footage on the Facebook, he recounted his macabre experiences when he was working for Eiye (Air lords) confraternity a popular cultism organisation in Lagos state. 

Some of them have even been victimised by the ritualists. The case of Adeoye Fawaz, the Chess champion and bus conductor, who won the mental Maths competition organised by CEO of Chess in Slum Africa, Tunde Onakoya, has trended on the social media lately. The 18-year-old boy disclosed his ugly foray under the bridge of Oshodi, the most heavily populated commercial area of Lagos state, parental death and divorce that rendered Fawaz homeless is true of what lead others into the world of streetism. 

The wisdom behind the feat of Adeoye signaled that a lot them are extraordinarily endowed and if nurtured they will certainly excel. Do you know how many of them have been lost owing to our negligence? Finally, Yoruba are fond of a proverb which illustrates, “It is the egg of a hen that grows to a cock”. This sounds paradoxical? Then, it remains a food for thought for all the stakeholders.


Abdullahi writes via solihuabdullahi99@gmail.com

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily