My kids and I feed once a day, live in windowless shop in FCT village – Mary

Things went downhill for my family since I lost my job – Abdul


By Abubakar Yakubu, Abuja


•Mary being assisted by her sons, dig for sweet potatoes  to feed for the day


These are not the best of times for most Nigerians, but the situation seems worse for some. Mary Joshua, a mother of five underage children, would have wished that her late husband, Joshua Joseph, returns to this world to continue catering for his family.

The present economic situation in the country is gradually making life unbearable for her and her children as they find it very difficult to feed and are at the verge of being thrown out of a windowless shop that has served as their abode for the past two years at Kuruduma 1 in Guzape District of the FCT.

•Mary’s children Comfort and Michael fetching drinking water from a stream


Her plight was drawn to the attention of our reporter by a pastor who normally goes to pray on top of a mountain at Kuruduma in Guzape District of the FCT. Pastor Olotu R. Taiwo said that during prayer sessions, her cry was the loudest and people watched her crying profusely and pleading to God to come to her aid.

The pastor said he confronted Mary to find out what the problem was and was shocked to see where she lived with her children, Michael 5, Timothy, 7, and Comfort, 9.

•Mary inside the shop with three of her children, Timothy, Michael and Comfort


“In the past, the place was isolated and surrounded by bushes. But presently, it is cleared and structures have started springing up with people living in them,” he said.

He said over the years, it has been part of his weekly schedule to visit her and the children, just for them to get hope.

While commenting on the home, Mary said herself and her children normally always see snakes and scorpions in the surroundings and sometimes inside the shop they live in.

“It is a common occurrence and we are used to it,” she said.

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While going down memory lane on how she met her husband, Mary said it was love at first sight when she met Joshua, a bricklayer in Benue State. In 2013, they got married in Benue State and moved down to Abuja in 2015 to start a home at Nyanya.

“We were progressing daily in life and giving glory to God. Every night we prayed together and very early in the morning before he leaves for work, we would join hands to pray together and would later go into discussions on plans to make the family successful,” she said.

Mary recounted that on April 16, 2022, the same formalities took place at her home in the morning before she saw him off to where he normally boarded a commercial motorcycle to the motor park, from where he took a bus to his place of work.

“Before he climbed the bike, we waved each other and he said he would call me. Later I received a call from one of his colleagues at the site he was working at Kabusa in Abuja, saying he had collapsed and had been taken to a clinic,” Mary lamented.

She said when she rushed to the clinic; the doctor told her that her husband had died and she immediately called his family and they came down to carry his remains to Otukpo in Benue State, where he was buried.

Mary said after the burial, she returned to Abuja with the children and after some months, they moved out of the apartment in Nyanya to the shop at Kuruduma because she couldn’t afford to pay the N120,000 house rent.

“I immediately enrolled my children at the LEA Primary School in the area and began hustling by selling groundnuts and sugarcane during their seasonal markets. I also fetch water in building sites to be paid stipends,” she added.

She said since she dropped out in Junior Secondary School Three due to the inability of her poor family to pay her school fee, she had vowed that her children would go to school. She lamented that things were turning upside down for her due to the harsh economic situation in the country.

“Presently we feed only once a day and that is in the evening. Every one of us is accustomed to this fact and as for our meal this evening, I am still thinking of how I will get the meal,” she said.

She further lamented that she had to send her 12-year-old eldest son to stay with her mother and the other one to stay with her sister, while the rest of the children at most times skip school to assist her in hawking her wares so that they could survive.

“Things are so difficult that we now drink water from a stream as we cannot afford to buy sachet water due to the increased fee.  The heat at night is very terrible in the shop as there are no windows and my children and I normally come out of the shop at night (whatever the time) to sleep outside,” she said.

Mary acknowledged that her husband’s family was just struggling, while her own mother had been incapacitated due to an injury that occurred from an accident. She appealed to well -meaning Nigerians and the Federal Government to assist her in getting an alternative accommodation before the shop owner throws her out. She said the quit notice served her had long expired and they are stranded in the place.

She also appealed for a grant or loan to enable her start a fresh foodstuff business in order to support her family.

Immediately after the chat with our reporter, Mary picked up a hoe and started digging the ground to remove sweet potatoes, which she decided was going to be their meal for the day.

Abdul Ibrahim, another parent with a wife and two children, described the present security situation in the country as very terrible. He said things began to go down for him after he went into depression when he lost his brother in December 2021.

“Due to my state of health, the establishment I was working for decided to retire me and I was able to manage throughout 2023 up till May 29, 2023 when President Bola Tinubu removed petroleum subsidy,” he said.

He said due to the high cost of foodstuff, his family now eats twice daily, while he finds it very difficult to scout around for jobs due to high transportation fares.

Ibrahim also lamented that early this year, the pension company he is enrolled with called him to come to their office over the federal government’s palliatives.

He said when he got to the FCMB Pensions Office, an official asked him whether he would want them to disclose details of his account to the Federal Government so that he could benefit from government’s cash palliatives.

“I told them yes and did the necessary documentation to benefit from the six months N25,000 palliatives in January, but till now I have not received the money or any explanation from the Federal Government,” he said.

He said such amount, along with his N20,000 pension, would have gone a long way to assist his family with food, adding that presently his wife who is a teacher had become the breadwinner of the house.

Ibrahim appealed to President Tinubu to allow for the continuation of the palliatives to pensioners and to also ensure that palliative foodstuff was distributed to the right people.