Destitutes in Kaduna, who rely on begging for survival, say they have been turned to ‘PoS Operators’ as a result of the prevailing cash-squeeze.
Explaining their ‘newly- found’ status to a correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the beggars said most people now give them old Naira notes and demand for “change’ in return for a reward.
“The situation is so desperate, especially with most banks allowing the withdrawal of not more that N1000 or N2,000 and PoS operators imposing high charges.
“There are two categories of people that patronise us, namely those who pretend to give us alms and those who openly request for favour.
“The first category will give you either N200 or N500 old note, forfeit part of it to you as alms and request that the change be given back to him in lower denominations of N100, N50, N20 and N10.
“The second category will openly request for change in lower denominations and offer you some percentage as reward,” narrated one of the destitute, Usman Ali.
Another destitute, Kabiru Musa, confirmed to NAN that such ‘economic transaction’ between beggars and members of the public was actually flourishing in Kaduna.
He said from time immemorial, assistance to beggars had always been in lower Naira denominations and so the beggars were hardly in short of such monies.
A female destitute, Maryam Baba, who was confronted by NAN for comment on her informal ‘PoS Operator’ status, burst into wild laughter, just as she also confirmed the development.
A mother of two, she said because of her adolescent kids, people had been generous in giving her alms and that most times, she had enough lower denominations to grant requests for ‘change’ from people.
“This new ‘business’ is promising and how we wish it will continue. The only challenge we face is how to deposit the money in banks.
“However, the good thing is that each time we go to banks, we are being granted special concession because of our condition,” she said.
NAN however gathered that lepers could not engage in such ‘business’ because of issue of stigma.
One of them contacted, who spoke on condition of anonymity, lamented that even sellers of items were often reluctant to receive money from them.
“We are battling with stigma; even spending our money is a problem. Therefore, the issue of people requesting to exchange money with us, is out of question.
“However, some of us do give other fellow beggars our money to help us exchange for us to also benefit from something little,” he narrated.
Also, NAN confirmed that visually impaired beggars could only engage in such ‘business’ by proxy as they cannot identify value and colour of currency.
“We sometimes use our guides, mostly our children, to attend to such requests from people. It is profitable. The only challenge is depositing of the old notes, but most times, we are granted concessions in banks.
“We pray for the end of the sufferings by Nigerians over this Naira re-design, but honestly, some beggars are in brisk business.
“We (beggars) are now like those into Casket trade, who do not wish people dead, but can only be in business when people die”, analysed Kabiru Bello, a visually impaired beggar in Kaduna.