Meet 28 year-old man from Katsina who sweeps Abuja ‘street’ daily
Twenty-eight-year-old Jamilu Abubakar, an indigene of Funtua in the north-central state of Katsina is a daily fixture at a busy alleyway in Utako District, Abuja that connects to the highway leading to the popular Jabi Motor Park or Berger bus stop.
For two years, Jamilu has taken it upon himself to clean daily, the usually filthy pathway in spite of his poor health condition. This he does without requesting or expecting to be paid.
Jamilu holding a walking stick to support himself due to a deteriorating sore on his leg, which has made him sort of handicapped, notwithstanding his condition does the cleaning with one hand.
Jamilu, who has had no formal education, speaking with Daily Trust Saturday said that his long, torturing leg pains started some 12 years ago where he worked at a public convenience as a cleaner and a car wash worker.
“The wounds on my legs started one day while I was lying down in a room. It came out like a boil and later it expanded to the other leg,” he said.
Jamilu said the deteriorating wound on his leg forced him to quit his then job as constant contact with water made his condition to worsen.
He, however, noted that at some point, help came his way from a foreigner who donated money through a local NGO to help with his treatment but unluckily, that intervention was short-lived as it didn’t bring succour to his predicament.
Although he could not provide the name of the foreigner who assisted him nor the NGO, Jamilu said: “I don’t have the woman’s contact because it was the people who came to me and they called the woman through a video call to show her my leg. After she saw the legs, she asked that I should be taken to the hospital.”
He explained that he was first taken to the Asokoro General Hospital, Abuja.
“When I started recovering, I was transferred to Zone 3 Wuse General Hospital. They started the treatment and not up to a year, then, there was an outbreak of cholera so they discharged me and since then I have been on my own.”
Jamilu’s excitement over the intervention on his illness was cut short as he had no one else to turn to for assistance. When he contacted those who initially brought him succor, he was told that the foreigner who help with the finances to take care of his health no longer sent money and that he was on his own.
“They told me I should bear with the situation and to pray to God to provide someone else who will come to my aid.”
Jamilu, determined to make a life out of his situation while praying for help and with no means of survival, taught about engaging in petty business but felt the sore on his leg would deter potential customers should he engage in petty trade decided to sweep the alley daily.
The approximately 100 metres walkway is sandwiched between the popular inter- state transport company, ABC Transport and another building still under construction. It is the only available space for pedestrians in the environment to connect to the nearest highway.
Jamilu’s devotion to cleaning the alley usually gets him tips from passersby who are impressed and touched with what he does.
Explaining his life journey to sweeping the alley which has now become a passion, he said “It’s been long I started staying here. When I came, the place was filled with faeces, urine and dirt and I saw that workers usually pass through the road and so I decided to start cleaning it.”
Jamilu who resides in Rigawa otherwise called Riga city around the Shafa area of the Abuja Metropolis commutes using commercial Tricycles to the place but on the day of the interview with him, he said he trekked the distance because he didn’t have money on him to pay for transportation.
He usually arrives around 10 am to 11 am every day when he is buoyant enough to pay for transport otherwise, he arrives around noon if he has to walk considering his condition.
He says, whenever he sweeps, some passersby give him N50 while others give N100 which he usually uses to cater for himself and his aged parents back home.
“My parents are as poor as I am and unable to provide money to treat me. I try to assist them by saving the little I get and send to them every two weeks or at least once a month.”
He said: “I need help and if I have my way and God helps me with capital to start a business I will be repairing the road aside cleaning it, not for people to be giving me anything but just to make the road accessible to everyone.”
A passerby impressed with Jamilu’s work told Daily Trust Saturday that it was his first time passing through the alley when he saw Jamilu. “ I was impressed by what he was doing and the passion in which he carried a duty he was not paid to do.
“What he is doing is impressive considering his condition, that is why I gave him little token,” he said.
A security man who watches over the ABC Hotel, Habu Usman, confirmed that Jamilu is always seen sweeping the alley every day.
He noted that what Jamilu does is a noble act and that he is peaceful and pays attention to what he does and doesn’t constitute any nuisance to the environment.
However, Daily Trust Saturday gathered that the place used to be quite an eyesore. Jamilu has impacted positively to this community as he has been dedicated to this daily community service of his.