I sleep in people’s stalls, filling stations’

Muhammadu Musa is not happy with the unending season of rains in Warri, the commercial nerve centre of Delta State. The weather has been unfriendly and this has limited commercial activities, particularly in riverine areas like Warri. The implications for a physically challenged person like Musa is hindrance of human traffic along busy roads and hunger

Musa’s ‘vocation,’ as it were, is begging. He unequivocally said alms begging is his “stat.” According to him, his entire life, is predicated on soliciting alms from benevolent fellow humans in Warri…..CONTINUE READING 

Saturday Tribune caught up with him last weekend at a filling station near the popular Igbudu Market in the heart of Warri, in Warri Local Government Area of the state. The swelling population of merchants and beggars from the northern part of Nigeria has earned them an enclave now called Hausa Quarters. The old name, Igbudu Market, appears going out of use now. A torrential downpour had just subsided. But it was still drizzling. Our reporter had also taken shelter at the filling station which appears to be a haven for mostly folks from Nigeria’s impoverished North. Musa said the filling station is their abode come rain, come sunshine.

“This is where we sleep. I sleep in people’s stalls or in this filling station. We have mats. The owner is generous to allow us pass the night here on a daily basis. If the rains come or the weather becomes inclement in any way, we roll under our nylons and tarpaulin till the situation improves,” he said in pidgin English.

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Born in Lafia, Lafia Local Government Area of Nasarawa State but came from the Rindre ethnic group of Wamba Local Government Area of the same state, Musa’s two legs saw evil days as a toddler. He wasn’t born a cripple. He lost them to a mysterious attack.

Hear him: “I’m Muhammadu Musa from Nasarawa State. I’m from Lafia local government Area. I wasn’t born a cripple; I was born whole. But a particular Friday, my mom bathed me so that I could go to the mosque. But I fell off her hands to the ground through the power of diabolical people.

“My mom then took me to the hospital for treatment. In the process, I was given an injection that went wrong . The development complicated my situation. My daddy said I shouldn’t have been taken to the hospital. I was a year plus. That’s how I lost my legs to the strange occurrence.”

Fate appeared to have more woes for him as not too long after, his parents died, But by then, he had managed to attend primary school to the point of JSS 1.

“My dad and mom are now late. I have two younger brothers. I attended school up to JSS 1. My legs are my problem. When the accident happened, my parents and I suffered so much. There was no help from any quarters.”

The panhandler wouldn’t know his exact age. He, however, believes he is about 25 years old, his contrary physical appearance, notwithstanding. He said being crippled, he had to marry early if he must live a long and relatively good life. His mother married a wife for him before she died, and through one of his kinsmen who came home on holiday, he relocated to Warri to hustle and feed his family.

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“I’m 25 years old. I married early. I was small when I got married. It was my mom that married a lady for me. But with my parents’ deaths, I had to relocate to Warri to hustle. There’s no work over there, so I came here. Over there, nobody checks on you, family member or not. I have a kinsman doing Keke business here in Warri. He was the one who invited me to Warri to hustle. And that hustle is begging,” he said.

Why the choice of alms begging when his two hands and other organs of his body are intact? The young man said he had no problem engaging his hands to earn a living rather than constituting a nuisance to the public. His bane is: who will be there for him if he wanted to learn a trade or work to make a living?

He said, “My two hands are intact. I can sell provisions. I can even learn a craft. I can also ride keke for commercial purposes. But who will help me?”

Begging is demeaning. But, in spite of the current economic situation, Nigerians are still kind to the underprivileged. Musa, who acknowledged this, said through the little he makes from begging, he sends home money for the upkeep of his wife and kids, the oldest of whom is seven years old.

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“I work here and my work is begging. I can get about N1,000 or N1,500 per day. People give us money. It is not enough, but I manage. I have a wife who’s in the village. I have four children. The oldest is seven. I send money to them. She even called yesterday (Saturday) to send money to her, but I begged her and asked her be patient with me. We speak daily.

“My wife does nothing. I have no money to set up a business for her. I’m not pure Hausa. I have my tribesmen here. But you won’t know that I’m not Hausa because we all speak the language. My tribe is Rendre in Womba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. People who give us alms here see all of us as Hausas. I’m a middlebelter. But we’re one here,” he averred

Musa has no wheelchair. He roams the streets to beg for alms via a pair of skate rollers which his amputated legs rest on, while he has slippers on his palms to aid his movement around the area….CONTINUE READING 

“We have no problem here except these incessant rains. The rains spoil our business so much, as people who should be passing by to give us alms will not do so. Warri people are good people. They give alms a lot. That’s part of the story we heard that brought someone like me here. “Up North, help is not guaranteed,” Musa said as he hurried away to continue his ‘work’.