Photo: Sun Publishing
If wishes were horses, beggars would ride, so goes the old saying. And indeed, this beggar has some sincere wishes. He wants plenty money and he also wants to go to school. He also has another wish. “Governor Fashola should build a house for me,” he says.
His name is Anu Akiode. But to his friends, passers-by, drivers, conductors and the army of area boys – those street toughies that earn their livelihood doing assorted petty crimes around Oshodi in Lagos - he’s simply Agba. Welcome to the world of this diminutive cripple considered perhaps the smallest beggar in Nigeria.
Agba, in Yoruba, literally translates elder. But a look at Agba reveals nothing elderly. A dark-complexioned man, Akiode is just about one foot, six-inches tall. Add that to his babyish face, and you’ll think you’re gazing at a three-year-old boy.
That is far from the truth, however. This beggar is no boy; he’s 36 years old.
His fans and others who regularly offer him money and assorted gifts at Oshodi-Isale where he stays all day begging for alms actually gave Anu the nickname after discovering that his face belies his years.
Born to the Akiode family in Agege, a sprawling Lagos community, Agba says he has been crippled from childhood. His parents are from Onigbedu Village in Ogun State.
So who is Agba? Hear him: “I am the first born of the four children my mother had for my father,” he says in Yoruba. “My mother is no longer with my father. My father also has four other children from his other wife. And my three siblings are with my mother.”
According to him, his mother is a tailor while his father operates a commercial motorbike, otherwise known as okada. The old man is also into fashion designing, he says.
Agba would not, however, disclose the amount he makes daily from begging. He insists he has not been begging for too long, even though he would not reveal what business he was into before relocating to Oshodi to beg.
He informs the reporter that he lives in Ifo, a community in Ogun State. It is from there that his brother, who also acts as his personal assistant, helps him into an Oshodi-bound bus every morning just as the brother helps in getting him back to Ifo every evening. The brother, who loiters around a few metres away, takes care of Agba, getting food, water and other basic needs for him.
And since his brother is also responsible for assisting him in other ways, the man also benefits from whatever Agba makes in a day.
A chat with him easily brings out many deep wishes buried in the innermost recesses of his mind. Agba says his present needs include money and a house. He also wants to get back to school, he says, adding that he would forever remain grateful to whoever could make that dream come true. According to him, he would someday love to be counted among the successful people in Nigeria.
He’s passionately appealing to Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola to help make his dream come true.
“I need a house. I need plenty of money. I would like the governor to help me with a house. I’m appealing to him to build a house for me. I will never forget him.
“But even if the governor cannot bless me with plenty money and a house, at least he should help me by sending me to school and by paying all the fees. I want to be able to go to school so that I can express myself well in English,” he tells Daily Sun.
How would he feel if the government were to relocate him to a facility for people with special needs? Agba said he wouldn’t want to be taken to any special home for the physically challenged or the handicapped. All he wants, he says, is for Fashola to help him out of his present circumstance.
But is there anything that could make him quit begging, you ask. “Why not? If I get help from the government, if Fashola can build a house for me or if he sends me to school, I will never go back to begging again.”
By CHARLES SEGUN ADEGBITE
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Source : sunnewsonline.com