From Kabir Yayo Ali, Ibadan & Dalhatu Liman, Abuja
The leader of blind people from the North living in Ibadan, Alhaji Ibrahim Muhammed, has called on Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State to reconsider the decision to evacuate all beggars from their homes in Akinyele village near Ibadan to Kishi town in Oke-Ogun area.
He made the call in an interview with Daily Trust after learning of the government’s plan to evacuate all beggars from Ibadan to Kishi.
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Speaking in a radio programme, Radio Fresh 105.9 FM, Governor Makinde said that his government tried its best to house the beggars in a newly built settlement at Akinyele but they kept fleeing the settlement one by one, returning to the streets for begging.
“Therefore, what we are going to do now is if we evacuate them (beggars) from the streets; we will relocate them to Kishi town where it will be very difficult for them to return to Ibadan,” the governor said.
Makinde’s declaration prompted a reaction from the head of the blind.
Muhammed said: “There are real beggars like us whose justification to beg is real because of our disability. Likewise, there are also men and women who are not disabled but they go around begging on the streets of Ibadan. Such beggars are painting us black.
“Therefore, if the government effected its decision to evacuate all of us from Ibadan to Kishi, then we are treated unfairly because most of us (blind men and women) have spent more than 50 years living with our families in rented houses in this neighbourhood, Sabo Ibadan, majorly populated by Hausa community.
“We do not beg on the streets of Ibadan, rather we beg at the doorsteps of our givers, in the mosques and public gatherings as our kith and kin live in this new neighbourhood. They give us money, food and clothes for the sake of God,” he added.
He noted that many blind persons had been living at Sabo for over 45 years, where he married and bore many children, maintaining that they should not be mixed with healthy beggars in the city.
He faulted the governor’s contention that beggars housed at Akinyele Destitute Home sneaked out to the streets, saying, “As you can see us now, we are sitting at the Palace of Serikin Makafi, which late Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu acquired for us a long time ago.”
He said though they were happy with the newly built destitute home, they could not relocate to the building because there was no provision for food and water.