When Elders Beg : The Old man and his Sign ( A Nigerian Situation)

As i was walking along the Road on a sunny afternoon in the city of Lagos around Shogunle/ Air Force Base PWD area . I knew where i was going but i had no bearing of what to do when i got there , this is a typical walk and mindset of my unemployed self.

So as i was walking, i saw this old man, who should be in his late sixties or early seventies. Infact, i saw the sign on the man's neck before i saw the old man.

Naturally, I wanted to take out my phone to snap the man and his sign for it was my first time of seeing such a thing , although have heard of such scenarios but it was my first time of seeing it myself but as i brought out my phone , it was flat and  i remebered we had not witnessed any form of electricity supply for over 2 weeks , so i couldn't snap the man

The sign or should i say a message was written with blue ink on the torn part of  a paper carton and it read simply " Please help me i need a Job" and the man walked slowly past me bended with age continuing on his journey.

Only God knows from where he had been walking from.

I called the message on the man's neck a sign because "the message" i saw on the man 's neck is a popular sign of the unemployed. On seeing this, i couldn't snap to post on social media, i couldn't help the man's plight because i too belong too the " unemployed class" just like the man, i felt pity and angry at the same time.

 I felt angry at myself for being unable to render any form of help, i felt angry at the government and felt angry at the corrupt officials whose corruption are continually celebrated on Nigerian dallies.

Celebrated, because most of the corrupt cases or officials get the free publicity and most times , walk away free or continue to gain more publicity.

I felt angry at these corrupt officials in government currently and in past regimes who launder money that will feed a country like Gambia or Somalia. Yet an old man was pratically begging for food with honour ( because he was willing to work for his meal)

I was simplly overwhelmed by what i saw and the emotions it ignited made me unable to write the article as at the time of the incident or the day of the incident. If i did , i would not be able to write " sanely or coherently" , so i waited until my temper simmered down to piece my thoughts together to put the situation i witnessed in writing.

To get a title for this piece was difficult as it is "a natural" and trying to put SEO consideration into the number of characters or words in the heading was not something i could do.

So from the title , and from the short story i related, i must tell you categorically, " NIGERIA DOES NOT CARE FOR ITS ELDERLY CITIZEN". By Nigeria, i mean the government and by the elderly  i mean the large majority of old people who have at one time in their life served Nigeria either in the civil service , military or active capacity but have now retired due to age , thereby becoming pensioneers .

These are people who served Nigeria before independence and during the early years of Nigeria's independence.

These people who are the perfect representation of "To serve Nigeria with all my strength" are repaid in the most cruel fashion by one of Africa's most naturally endowed and rich countries.

It is a National Disgarace and disturbing thing to have found that old man with that sign and it is no hidden fact that they are many more like him who i have yet to see.

This elderly man who is likely a retiree, is not attacking government for not fighting corruption, this man is not complaining about the #5, 000 not getting to him, yet the government says the money is given to the vulnerable.

Answer me this question, if you are reading this, is a sixty year old man who is hungry and with no job or money not vulnerable?

Who is the Vulnerable?

This man was just hungry and he was not even begging which is a craft/ business some within his age bracket have reverted to, this elderly citizen on the contrary was willingly to work for it despite his age.

That's age old integrity.

Tell me who is going to hire a sixty year or seventy old man except to work as a security man but that too is not a job without competition because youths that could pass for his children are also in the same situation; unemployed and hungry, but in the case of the Youth, there is an added feature , they are desperate and energetic, so they would take anything.

Also, Seeing that old man was a stain on the morality of every Nigerian who had a capacity of helping that man and didn't.

In a city like Lagos, before i saw that man, do you want to tell me nobody sane and whose morality was average enough to call the man kindly to seat somewhere, offer him a drink or entertain him till the Scorching Sun on that day seized its intensity ?

Or Would you tell me there was nobody in the traffic jams in their Air conditioned cars who could have seen that old man with the sign on him, and tried to help him either by cajoling him to get out of the sun or giving him something ( although he might refuse) for him to find something to eat or find something for him to eat.

Yet, Nigerians are one of the most religious people on earth, yet their faith doesn't influence their morality.

Nigerians shouting in Churches, praying vigorously in Mosques is a common sight, but the lesson of compassion taught in those religious houses never permeates or extend beyond the walls of the religious House.

The compassion sadly is shown to the well fed, fresh looking religious leaders in these religious houses who are preaching the compassion but  these religious leaders also do not look beyond the front rows filled by richly Garmented, High Class families and and at the other seats which is filled by the middle class and lower class who find it tough to pay the tites.

Outside the religious houses, the Rich Nigerians helps the Rich Nigerian, they are afraid of helping the less priviledged , because according to them, they got " burned" one time by an ungrateful "poor person" so they are afraid to help.

That arguement has been bastardized due to overuse, for those Rich and priviledged few, here is my arguement against that arguement, if God who gave you the wealth took it away anytime you misused your wealth or misbehaved/ sinned ?

Then, you will be no better than the old man and nobody will be rich in the world.

Or let's try this question, Will feeding a person a day improverish you?

So that arguement of being burned does not hold much weight, if you are capable of help , Help! if you cannot, don't give excuses, it does not alleviate the situation.

Now to the issue of the unemployment situation in Nigeria and the economic situation sine the Buhari administration gained power.

This last part of my essay is a critique , a wake up call and a recommendation.

Currenlty , in Nigeria , things are expensive like i stated in a previous essay, people are hungry and #5, 000 is not just enough to stop that hunger for a month.

The recession is threatening to kill the masses of Nigeria especially the lower and middle class.

Now in Nigeria, the current " food situation" of Nigeria is now a a matter of " Have you eaten at all rather than are you satisfied? and this is in a country whose soil is one of the most fertile for farming across the continent.

The hunger rate is high, so is the price of the foodstuffs , it just seems to be extreme on extreme at every turn for Lower and middle class Nigerians because even the rich ones have take the opportunity of the recession as an excuse not to help them.

And the whole problem is blamed on one particular person, infact if a survey were to be done on the most mentioned name in Nigeria today. The name Buhari will take the top spot.

Muhammadu Buhari is the number one citizen of the nation.

Every problem facing Nigeria that relates to the economy is blamed on the man who was voted in 2015 by majority of Nigerians.

His government which has only been in government for over a year has suffered a lot of setbacks and allegation and critique of corruption despite the regime main mantra of change and fighting that particular phenomenon which has ravaged Nigeria for decades.

So many protests have been organised and are being organised to protest the state of the nation and the hard biting effect of the state of the economy on common Nigerians.

It is right for every Nigerian to blame Buhari especially those who voted for him, and  stood by it.

2015 election was an historic election as Nigerians for the first time decided the results of the polls.

However, here are the likely causes of the Nigerian's dissapointment in President Buhari;

Maybe Nigerians put too much hope in the president while " he is but a man" or maybe

Maybe Corruption is just simply fighting basck as some people have asserted.

All these have an hint of truth in them but my recommendation to the Nigeria president is to be a little like Donald Trump.

And there is only one reason and that is the fact that Corruption is obviously fighting back with everything it has its disposal and in fact it seems its over powering the drive of the Anti-Corruption fight.

These progenitors and supporters of corruption are within the president 's cabinet , with those in his cabinet having connections with the king pins of corruption outside the president's cabinet.

Corruption is fighting back in form of the Senate house which is led by a man who can be defined as nothing other than the epitome of popular corruption i.e they made corruption more fashionable.

That's not the issue however, the issue is how the president does not lose the faith and trust of the people because things have gotten beyond push and Shove. It is "strangling".

Like i said earlier, be a little like Donald Trump( although am not a fan of president of the United States) but there is " I don't give a damn what you think" on cetainly controversial decisions" attitude about Trump.

The attitude can be turned into Good by the Buhari regime , by fully utilising the veto power the president of Nigeria has, not caring what the parties or his God fathers would say because that is the only way that can preserve the trust nigerians bestowed on him during the election in 2015.

The president needs to sacrifice the loyalty to his party or sponsors for service to his people if he really wants to achieve change.

The president is known to be a person of integrity but his saintly white is starting to have little dots of Black  with this economic downturn, he just needs to answer the question, where does my loyalty lie, my people or my party?

At 72, you have seen it all, this is the age of leaving legacies, there is no tomorrow as tomorrow might just be too late. You can damn any political juggernaut and still  live to tell the story. This is not time to be playing "politics" like the teens in the annals of power.

This is the time to create a legacy Nigerians would never forget , not the time to argue or negotiate with party leaders.

You were given a second chance, don't blow it Mr President.

You owe every Nigerian especially those who struggled for your victory to work towards achieveing at least one landmark development in their favour.

The #5,000 in my opinion is a shady scheme, it is almost like bribing 1 million Nigerians  with the stipend to stop them from not complaining at the situation.

You can do more than that, Nigeria are indeed strong people but when the elderly and the youths are all feeling the brunt of hardship, then you know " Things have started to fall apart, and the Center better do something before it can no longer hold"


As regards the elderly welfare, For those who were former government offiicials or military men, their pensions should be paid as soon as it is due directly into their bank accounts.

The practise of having to go to  one office or ministry where they have to queue along with their old compatriots in the sun with their old age and whereby these ministries demand for old documents that are probably no longer available in order for these old people to collect their hard earned pension should stop.

Although there are some bad elements at these ministries and pension offices, who " comfortably and easily share the pensions and money saved by theses elederly people during their time in service.

Yet it is hard for these same set of people  to disburse these money ( their money) to this elderly people.

What a country! Yet that pension officer will go to his religious meetings and donate largely and he will be showered with prayers by the cleric . Yet the elderly he took their money are languishing in abject poverty carrying placards around their neck begging for jobs, begging on the streets for alms or foods.

Tell me, will that kind of prayer be answered?

So use the banks, with the level of   technology, you can verify who gets what, when and how . And the individuals that would head this process should be people with a sustainable level of integrity.

Thank you very much.

You can send me a mail @ismailissa11@gmail.com


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