By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
ABUJA—Oftentimes, life does not go as smooth for everyone as it goes for some. While some children grow up in luxury, others, who are not fortunate enough, end up along the way, having no one to help them fulfill their dreams and attain greatness.
That, was the case of the 25-year-old Usman Abubakar, a young man from Jaji, Kaduna state, who suffered from Poliomyelitis at the age of 12 and is presently crippled.
Usman, noticed he could not use his legs any more when as a child, he returned from school one fateful day and fell to the floor, only to be carried by his parents and siblings to the bed. His situation which was unimaginable, lingered from days to weeks, months to years and 13 years later, Usman never walked again, as he had lost complete use of his limbs and now rolls on a skate which aids his movement.
This is another case of polio—Also known as poliomyelitis and infantile paralysis, polio is a highly contagious viral infection disease that is caused and transmitted by a virus called poliovirus, that can lead to paralysis, breathing problems, or even death. Paralyzed limbs such as arms or legs waste away over time which is the cause of deformed child legs most commonly being associated with the disease polio.
The poliovirus which is said to be found only among humans, is transmitted via the so-called fecal-oral route. This simply means that, polio is mostly transmitted by drinking water that has been contaminated by the feces of a person carrying the poliovirus.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis. Among those paralysed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.
This reporter took interest in Usman who was always seen sweeping the Banex bridge in Abuja, a job he has done for 4 years— keeping the bridge clean of refuse deposited by hawkers who spread their wares on the bridge for business in the mornings and evenings, without recourse to cleaning their mess after every business period and do not even pay Usman to keep it clean.
A brief chat with Usman—’Jaji Boy’ and ‘Sweeping Master’, as he popularly calls himself, exposed a lot to this reporter. Usman narrated his story, but what was very catchy in all, was the fact that, though crippled, Usman is very hard-working and had been trained on shoe making, welding as well as the use of computer but has been limited to sweeping the bridge due to lack of capital to start any business.
“My name is Usman Abubakar from Jaji, Kaduna state, It is five years now since I came to Abuja and since then, I have looked for a job to no avail. I did not get any kind of job to do, that’s why I resorted to sweeping the bridge which I have done for four years now”, said Usman in pidgin English—a grammatically simplified form of the English Language.
The ‘Sweeping Master’ who lives in Zuba— a thriving community situated on the fringes of Abuja central city and shares boundary with Madalla in Niger State, comes to the Banex bridge every day to sweep the bridge for stipends. According to him, some days, he gets a meagre N1,000 which is less than $3 dollars and when luck shines on him, he would go home with N1,500 which is a little over $4 dollars, and from the little he gets, he also saves for rainy days.
The 25-year-old Usman, who revealed that he learned how to do different things at the Rehabilitation Centre for disabled people—crippled and deaf persons, was however saddened by the fact that he has no body to help him, adding, that he also does not believe in begging people for money to survive.
“I learnt three courses at the Rehabilitation centre I attended after finishing from the polytechnic in Kaduna. I learnt wielding, shoe making and use of computer there for three years, a year each for the three courses”, he said.
He sadly disclosed, that after the trainings at the Rehabilitation Centre, owned by the government, there was no form of empowerment to continue with life, noting however that the school gave the students only N10, 000 which is about $28 dollars to start a business.
According to him, “The only thing they told us was that we had graduated but they didn’t give us something to use in purchasing materials to continue the work. They just called the people who were supposed to graduate and gave us N10,000. They said I should go and rent a shop but they didn’t give us engine, they didn’t give us anything. Is it the N10,000 that I will use to purchase engine and rent the shop? What they did to us was not good at all.
“I finished all that, and I still don’t have a job I can do to practicalize what I learned, but the biggest issue, is that I don’t have the money to buy a computer or the shoe making machine and I am the only male child of my parents, the rest are ladies.
“I provide for all of them but then I don’t have the opportunity to work to even help myself and them, that’s the reason I started sweeping the bridge with the hope of making some money to help my parents”, he explained.
Usman, disclosed that he can function well in all the three skills he learned, if given the opportunity. He also told this reporter, that he had to make and repair shoes when his friend who owned a machine was around but since the friend left with his machines, he had not had the opportunity to make new shoes and had decided to repair spoilt ones.
“I don’t want to just stop at amending old and spoiled shoes. I will like to make new shoes because, I was taught how to make new shoes at the school I attended. I can make male and female shoes, Usman said with full confidence.
‘Jaji boy’, who is in need of a shoe making machine to start his business, pleaded with the government and other Nigerians to come to his aid.
“I am pleading with Nigerians to help me with the machines I need or even money to buy it, so that I can work to help myself and my family. That is what I pray for”, he said. “It does not mean that I cannot do anything again in this life because I am crippled”.
With his dream of becoming a soldier shattered due to his present condition, Usman is not limiting himself to just that ‘Jaji boy’ or ‘Sweeping Master’ who sweeps the bridge, and though Polio might have taken his limbs, it did not take his abilities and zeal to work.
To speak with or help Usman, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org