PERCEIVED SOCIO ECONOMIC AND RELIGIOUS CAUSES OF STREET BEGGING IN NIGERIA (A CASE STUDY OF NIGER STATE)
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Begging in the streets of Nigeria is one of the perennial activities and perhaps occupations of the highly vulnerable, poverty-ridden individuals in the society, particularly in the developing countries. As revealed in the studies of different scholars, begging is not peculiar to developing countries; it is a universal phenomenon (Ado, 1997) and a global urban problem. While a considerable number of cities were identified in the US and Mexico as having a significant level of begging activity (Smith, 2005; Fabrega, 1971), cities in China, especially Shanghai, have been described as homes of different categories of beggars (including the poor, the disabled, the homeless and professional beggars), which are described as “liumin” (floating people) or “youmin” (wandering people) (Hanchao, Lu, 1999). In India, begging is seen as a pride as beggars are seen posing as someone famous and very popular. The situation is not so different in the city of Johannesburg, South Africa, where beggars are seen at junctions all over the major cities in the country. In cities of Britain and similar industrialized countries overtime, begging has become highly noticeable (Jordan, 1999). Those of Mexico, as reported by Fabriga (1971), cited in Adedibu (1989) are not left out in this negative scenario. The situation in Nigerian cities as observed everyday is perhaps regrettably worse with different categories of beggars found at motorparks, religious centres, markets, road junctions, venues of ceremonies, among other public places begging for various form of assistance ranging from food to money amongst others (Ojo, 2005).
The geometrically growing incidence and influx of beggars in major cities and towns in Nigeria as well as human carriage, kidnapping, indecent assault and a host of antisocial behaviour has assumed an alarming dimension. For instance, female beggars taking shelter under the bridges, parks and uncompleted buildings and unfortunately depend on serial male partners who exploit them sexually (Wikipedia free Encyclopedia, (2007). Street begging and homelessness are often regarded as anti-social behaviour issues by diverse stakeholder, including the media, politicians, traders, law enforcement officers and agencies, welfare and social service providers amongst others are general public and people who beg (Lynch, 2005), To this end, a survey report indicated that beggars were victims of diverse forms of abuse, neglect and abandonment (GN/UNICEF, 1990). According to Lynch (2005), an average of ten people are likely to beg on a daily basis. Carrous (cited in Qudiz, 2005:46) noted that an estimated 850 million people are hungry while 2 billion suffer from chronic mineral or protein deficiencies. In view of this, it was projected that between now and the year 2030, there will be food-related tensions, with the most vulnerable countries being Near and Middle East, the Maghreb, the Nile Valley, West African and sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria inclusive (Qudiz, 2005). In confirmation, Wolf (2005) reported that people, who beg, do so in order to meet the basic necessities of life; in addition, Qudiz (2005) revealed that 88% of respondents indicated adequate nutritional needs as their major reasons for begging as compared with need for accommodation (53%), alcohol-dependency (41%), health care (29%) and drug dependency (24%). He observed that none of the respondents begged because it was lucrative or easy money; the inference drawn from all these studies and many suggests that poverty is the main factor associated with street begging. All these and many more lend full support to evaluate the causes and consequences of street begging in Nigerian.
STATEMENT OF THE GENERAL PROBLEM
Street begging in Nigeria cities and town have become a perennial problem that has defied all strategies to eradicate it. The poor implementation of people oriented polices has left Nigerian masses poorer that imagined which has led to the less privileged taking to the street to beg for food and money. the increase in the spate of begging has negatively affected the socio economic development of the country as these beggars as a result of their poor status have become willing tools in perpetuating crime and other social vices thus affecting the security of the country which by extension has scared away potential investors thus making the economy to suffer.
Overtime In Nigeria, street begging has been a perennial social problem that has become a source of concern to her citizens. The presence of beggars on major highways in recent times often violate social, political and economic changes, resulting from heavy migration of families from rural to urban places, where they face profound deprivation (Inyingidimkpa & Wilcox, 2007). These child street beggars mostly between the ages of [3-17] years are a regular feature of most of the northern Nigeria. They regularly move about in groups of 5-20 with plates or bowls in hand soliciting for stipends, food, or anything edible from people or passersby. Some commentators have argued that this societal ill has a cultural/religious dimension to it, while others argued that it has more of the political dimension to it. As those who believe in this particular mantra have argued that the present volatile nature and persistent violence in northern Nigeria can be traced to the activities of these child street beggars. Whichever school of thought one belongs to, it is pertinent to draw the attention of political, traditional/cultural and religious leaders in Nigeria to this untoward social behavior, on the need to put a stop to this practice. It is unfathomable that in this age and time when kids who should be in school or doing something positive with their lives are left to roam about the streets, all in the name of whatever social/cultural/religious or political nuances. According to Lynch (2005), street begging is often regarded as an anti-social behaviour issue. Mortimer (2005) defined street begging as asking for money without an exchange of service in a public place. Wikipedia (2010) defined begging as a practice whereby a person obtains money, food, shelter or other things from people they encounter by request. Olawale (2007) regarded alms begging as the habit of someone (a beggar) soliciting for favour from others (potential donors) for survival and enrichment.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine the socio economic and religious causes of street begging in Nigeria. Other specific objectives of the study include;
H0: There are no socio economic implications of street begging in Nigeria.
H1: There are socio economic implications of street begging in Nigeria.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study would be of immense importance to government at all levels, religious leaders and the general public as it would highlight the major causes and recommend ways of reducing street begging in Nigeria. the study would also benefit students, scholars and researchers who are interested in developing further studies on the subject matter.
SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to the socio economic and religious causes of street begging in Nigeria using Lapai Niger state as a case study.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.PERCEIVED SOCIO ECONOMIC AND RELIGIOUS CAUSES OF STREET BEGGING IN NIGERIA