The increasing incidents of people who roam the streets of Enugu without reasonable places of abode is now an issue of concern. These Nigerians have virtually turned Bus-stops, abandoned public and private buildings including markets into residential areas.
Enugu like many cities across the federation has its own share of beggars who are made up of women and their children and sometimes accompanied by men who presumably are their husbands. There is also another set of people who beg due to disabilities.
When Radio Nigeria visited one of the places they call their home at Ngenevu, Coal Camp area of the State, the stench oozing out from the place was unbearable. The dwellers speak about their predicament.
“No house, Government should remember us, God should touch them to build houses for us”.
“For me, Government should remember poor people, in Iva Valley you see how people use Zinc to build batchers, the living condition is very horrible, in fact you can mention how many people that have toilets”.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Poverty which is one of the key causes of homelessness has continued to increase over the past twenty years. A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Enechi Onyia regretted that the current political system in the country lacked the socialist approach.
Chief Onyia emphasized that if Civilian Governments over the years had practiced the socialist approach, priority would have been given to programmes that reduced poverty.
“A Government that does not have a socialist approach has failed, the common man do they protect their interest”?
“Look at the Constitution, no welfare system, eradication of poverty is a welfare package, political parties are practicing sharing of the nation’s wealth”.
“Any Government that fails to set up industry for employment of citizens or build houses for the enjoyment of the common people has failed” he added.
In an interview, the Enugu State Commissioner for Poverty Reduction and Human Capital Development, Deacon Obinna Mbaeke who explained that Government empowered people in the State through the provision of soft loans to traders, provision of job opportunities to youths and accommodation at Elim Estate to low income earners attributed homelessness to poverty.
“Poverty can cause people to be homeless, a situation where someone cannot take care of his needs is poverty, the people on the street must have something doing; Government cannot just give houses to people”.
The former Commissioner for Housing in Enugu State, Chief Victor Okolo, stated that Government had no favourable plan, noting that a study on the financial strength of the citizens must be considered.
Chief Okolo suggested the institutionalization of the social housing scheme in the country to address the issue.
“This problem comes from the top, an Estate Developer, for instance gets a land from the Government and says he wants to do a low cost housing, the price at which it is placed, 6million, 7million, 8million, the method of payment makes it impossible for the common man.”
“Overseas, it is not an issue of when will you finish payment but it is an issue of are you continuing payment”.
But what does the United Nations Charter on Human Rights have to say about homelessness?
The United Nations Charter on Homelessness estimate shows that approximately one hundred million people worldwide are without a place to live while over one billion are inadequately housed.
Highlighting the provisions of the UN Charter on Homelessness, a former special rapporteur to the United Nations on Human Trafficking, Professor Joy Ezilo, said various Governments need to make concerted efforts to build affordable and decent accommodation for citizens.
“They should have affordable houses for those who are working, for Civil servants, then they will have for those who cannot pay and for those they can place in hostels, in homes where they can stay for a short period while they look for jobs or when they are out of jobs in order to rehabilitate or re-integrate them into the society”.
The National Bureau of Statistics indicates that the current report from the National Population Commission on April 11, 2018 reveals that population growth increased to one hundred and ninety eight million people in Nigeria.
While the data from the National Bureau of statistics shows that one hundred and twelve million Nigerians representing sixty seven point one percent of the country’s total population live below the poverty line.
The NBS says Nigeria is likely to become the poverty capital of the World by 2030.
This shows that the entire poverty alleviation programmes by successive Governments had yielded little or no result and need to be carefully re-articulated and implemented to finally nip the trend in the bud.