27th September, 2011
The number of teenage hawkers on the streets of Lagos State keeps rising daily.
Along Acme Road in Ogba, Lagos State, youth teens are seen hawking everything from groundnuts to Gala.
Fourteen-year-old Blessing Clement who hawks groundnuts said she is from Benue State and stays with her aunt in Ogba, Ikeja. She is a Primary 4 pupil of Estate Primary School.
Asked why she hawks, she said she left Benue for Lagos for better quality education and her aunt asked her to hawk groundnuts so to enable her get money for things she would need in school, like school bag and other items. Her husband is sick and she cannot afford to train her.
Edwina Ogbor, 17, is also from Benue State and was brought to Lagos by her aunt.
According to her, she is in SS1 and does not like what she does because her mates are in school while she is hawking groundnuts.
A respondent, Feyisara Oketunde, told P.M.NEWS that those who sent out these children to hawk must be brought to book.
â€œThey go and bring peopleâ€™s children from the village and promise to give them quality education. But when they get to Lagos, they turn them into hawkers. This unfair to humanity.
â€œThese innocent children are exposed to many dangers. They could be hit by oncoming vehicles or raped by hoodlums. Government should do something about this situation.â€
Another respondent, Bola Somefun, said it is unfair because these children will not have time to study, and in some cases, become wild and uncontrollable.
Mercy John attends Araromi Primary School and is in Primary Six. She is 12 years old and sells groundnuts, walking from Ogba through Acme, Wemco roads down to Ikeja. She said she stays with her parents in Ogba and sells to help with the family upkeep when she is on holidays and after school hours.
She said she does not have time to read her books but manages to do well in class.
Mariam Ojo who came all the way from Sango-Ota to sell bread at Ogba, said she is a student but sells bread whenever the school is on holidays.
According to her, â€œIâ€™m from Sierra Leone. If this is the only way I can earn a living and have some money in my pocket, itâ€™s good because I canâ€™t go and steal or beg before I eat.
â€œAt home, despite the fact that my parents are in Sierra Leone doing petty trade, out of the small change I realise, I still send money to them. Though, Iâ€™m not happy hawking but I just want to get something doing.
A respondent, Kalesanwo Ayodele told P.M.NEWS that many of the teenage hawkers are not Nigerians. “These girls are not safe hawking, and whenever something bad happens to them, then their people will come and start making noise all over the newspaper pages that their children are either missing or dead,â€ he added.
Fatimoh Adisa, 10, a primary 4 pupil who refused to name her school, said: â€œIâ€™m just assisting my mother to sell oranges here in Moshalashi, Oko-Awo, Lagos Island, because father is jobless.
â€œIf I do not assist my mom, what will I eat? How will I pay my school fees? Is it someone that is jobless that will pay my fees?
â€”Dedeigbo Ayodeji & Abimbola Obatayo