•Abuja beggars too cry out over naira crunch

From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja

beggars in Abuja are currently sandwiched between two major challenges. The naira redesign triggered currency crisis such that their benefactors, suddenly found themselves cashless and scouting aggressively for new notes.

Again, many of them are unbanked, so electronic financial transactions totally eluded them. This left them terribly impoverished more than ever before.

From Wuse to Garki and various suburbs, beggars confessed a remarkable drop in the number of willing givers when compared to what obtained months before. Those of them who mill around mosques and churches are also feeling the pangs of the naira scarcity because many congregants are without the new notes.

Their regular benefactors vanished, just as many motorists and passer-by no longer looked their way when they beckoned on them for alms.

The naira crunch has redesigned the economic landscape of Nigeria such that the middle and lower class citizens spend hours in hellish queues at banks and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) hunting for the new notes. The lower denominations of N20, N50 and N100 were mopped up as the scarcity bites harder.

A beggar, Abdullahi Mohammed, from Zamfara State, told Daily Sun he used to get up to N1,000 daily from alms but barely gets N300 now: “I have a bad leg so I can’t work. I’ve been surviving on people’s benevolence.

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“But I learnt there is no money again in banks and other places. I’m begging the government to provide money for people so they too can bless people like us. I’ve three children and my wife is not feeling well. I need help.”

Aisha Abubakar, an elderly beggar stays on one of the bridges along Airport Road. She expressed dissatisfaction with the situation and claimed that the quantity of alms received from people significantly decreased:

“I’ve been making less money every day for weeks now. Previously, at least five or six people out of 10 would drop something into my bowl whenever they passed me. I can hardly get one individual to give me money these days.

“A lady asked me if I had an account where she could send money to my account a few days ago when she stopped by. Unfortunately, I do not. I do not even know how to go about it. She suggested I visit the bank. I heard there are crowds in the bank. I am too weak for all that. I am all alone and my health is deteriorating.”

“I am not happy at all” a blind beggar, Mariam, at the gate to Karonmajigi Village said: “We beggars have been severely impacted by the naira shortage. My colleagues are all complaining. From daylight till night, we sit in the heat with hardly enough for food.

“It has not at all been easy for me because I am blind with two kids to raise. My husband also has disability. Nowadays, very few people donate alms.

“Even then, the amounts are usually in smaller denominations. People hardly ever donate 200 or even 100 Naira. Most donations today are between 20 and 50 Naira.”