Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has directed the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare in conjunction with Uyo Capital City Development Authority, UCCDA, to take immediate action to rid the streets, junctions, traffic points and other identified points in the state capital and its environs of men and women using children to beg for alms.
Security agencies have also been urged to interface with the beggars with a view to finding out where they stay at night, their motives and, where possible, take them out of the street. In a resolution Thursday, the lawmakers also urged the Commissioner for Women Affairs to design a system whereby young vagrants and beggars are rescued from their exploiters and rehabilitated in the motherless homes or other rehabilitation institutions.
The House’s resolution is sequel to a motion brought before the assembly by the member representing Oruk Anam State Constituency and Leader of the House, Sir Udo Kieran Akpan.
In the motion titled “Stopping the Menace of Able-bodied Men and Women begging for alms with babies/toddlers in the streets of Uyo”, the House Leader told his colleagues that the daily activities of street beggars in Uyo is alarming and should not be encouraged given the current security situation in the country, and the psychological effect it has on the people of the state.
“Whereas on daily basis, most especially in the afternoons and evenings, women and children stand at strategic junctions cuddling babies and toddlers begging for alms. These beggars, who are mostly non-indigenes of Akwa Ibom State, stand at Two-Lane junction by Ibom Hall, the Ibom Plaza, among other places”, the motion read in part.
Rt. Hon Kieran frowned at a situation where kids are used in the begging activity to attract the attention of passers-by and paint a picture of a very austere poverty about themselves and their families’.
Other members were unanimous in their support for the motion including. They are Aniekan Uko, (Ibesikpo Asutan), Mark Esset (Nsit Atai), Emmanuel Ekpenyong (Ini), Barr. Ime Okon (Ibiono Ibom), and Mfon Ekong (Nsit Ibom). They commended Rt. Hon. Akpan for sponsoring the motion and described it as timely.
Hon. Uko, reasoned that the beggars are not from Akwa Ibom, maintaining that the people of the state are not known for begging as it is alien to their culture and tradition Barr. Ime Okon in his observation noted that an average Akwa Ibom person guards his dignity as a well cultured people and would not find it dignifying to stand on the streets and beg.
Nsit Atai lawmaker, Esset, expressed disgust at the activities of the beggars, saying it has become necessary for urgent measures to be taken to evacuate street beggars from our streets as their conduct was losing security risk.
Responding, the Speaker Onofiok Luke, thanked members for being sensitive to issues which affect the people, and reiterated the resolve of the House to always be on the side of the people.
While condemning Street begging, the Speaker urged security agencies to be alive to their responsibility.