These are indeed hard times in Nigeria as parents have resorted to using their children as collateral to obtain food. A PUNCH News feature highlights a few of cases of children used as collateral.
Ibrahim Bala, five, ran around the premises in company with other children as they engaged each other in a game of hide and seek. Naive and harmless, the little boy jumped about with utmost joy as the play increased in momentum. His charm was infectious.
But the toddler could have been in a different situation now if not for share luck. Last Sunday, his father, Yusuf, used him as collateral for a bag of 50 kilogram rice at a popular market in Kano after being unable to provide for his family anymore. The middle-aged man after agreeing price with the seller, Alhaji Suleiman Bagudu, had left his son behind and went away with the bag of rice to fetch the money he claimed to have forgotten at home. Six hours without a sign of him, the worried trader traced Yusuf all the way to his house in the Koki, Dala Local Government Area of the state, through the help of his little son. Bagudu arrived to the sight of the household feasting on hot plates of rice.
“I am ashamed I had to go that far to get food for my family but if I hadn’t come up with that trick that day, I don’t know what would have happened to us or how we would have been able to withstand the hunger,” Bala said earlier in the week when one of our correspondents visited the family’s home in a densely populated part of the city. “I have sold almost everything I have to sustain my family. Things are getting hard by the day; taking care of them is not easy for me anymore. It is not as if I don’t love my son or plan to do him evil, I left him at the market because I knew as a brilliant boy, he would be able to lead the owner of the rice to our house if they didn’t see me after some time. I am so sorry for committing this act, it is hunger that drove me into it,” he said, as neighbours, uncomfortable at the sight of our correspondent, prevented any further interaction.Read More