Banning of Hawkers, What Future for Politicians ?
“Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits dawn around us by the equal rights of others”. I do not add within the law because law is often but the tyrant’s will and always so when it violates the right of the individual” These were the words of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States of America.
The banning of hawkers in some states of our country is so aching and should be looked into. Certain Governors have enacted laws against hawking in their respective states. When El-Rufai started his campaign against hawkers we thought it was a joke until another Governor fellow suit. Gov. El-Rufai before his election had assured the people that street hawking will not be banned until solutions are preferred , but the reverse was the case when Governor El-Rufai enacted laws banning street hawking even without setting out positive modalities.
Faces of Nigerians twisted and tongues wax stronger when the Governor of Lagos state, Akinwumi Ambode banned hawkers from doing their businesses on the street. After much wallowing and protest by the hawkers in Lagos State, the Governor went further to show how tenacious he is by enacting a law which affects both hawkers and the people patronizing them. According to him, hawk or buy from hawkers and go to jail or pay a fine of N90,000. However, the duo has called on the Governor to cease the law but to no avail.
One question stags on our mind; can street hawking be stopped? Nigeria’s street hawking has a long history. Take for example Kano having the highest number of child beggars, the almajiras and street hawkers. Kano is popularly known for the above distinctive features and attempt to stop it will have great effect in the state. If Governor Ambode stops street hawking in Lagos, how about Kano, Ondo and Akwa Ibom state ?
Casting our minds back, the street and its hawkers has always been one of the best campaign medium for politicians. In the process of campaigning, Quilox who is now enjoying his stay in office patronized many street hawkers as a way of showing love to them. On one occasion, he was seen buying groundnut along Ikorodu road. Many politicians prior to their elections made friends with these hawkers to cajole the masses for votes during their electioneering campaigns. After their elections, they turn back to attack this same hawkers with ink bone laws.
Aside from Akinwumi Ambode, Many other politicians has used hawking as a campaign beguile. The most recent was the campaign of Obusoki the Edo state flag bearer of the All Progressive Congress. Obusoki accompanied by the present Governor of Edo State Adams Oshiomole was seen eating corn publicly after patronizing a roadside seller. Has Ambode legalised the purchase of corn for political purpose? In another development, Governor Oshimole, to show how much he loves his people was spotted on the roadside buying plantain chips from a poor hawker.
This subject will not be properly expatiated without the mention of the stomach infrastructure Governor. The Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose has been described as the Governor whose only project is to buy tomatoes and pepper from hawkers. In one occasion, the governor was attacked for buying bananas from a child hawker who was supposed to be in school.
After declaring him winner of the 2015 Governorship election by the Supreme Court, Governor Wike of Rivers State took to the street to celebrate his victory. The Governor went round buying from hawkers in major residential areas in his acclaimed meet the people victory parade.
Governor Rochas Okorocha is also one of those Governors who loves showcasing funny simplicity looks to deceive the populace. Copying his Edo State counterpart, the Governor showed that he can’t only eat boiled corn but can do better by eating roasted corn. The okoro Hausa of Imo state was supposed to have paid about N250,000 for a roasted corn. During the last Governorship election, many Imo voters were hoodwinked by the philanthropist nature of Okorocha (okoro hausa). Some of his exhibitions were buying and eating of akara in the street, riding on a keke and even inviting a hawker to buy gala and chewing same to the admiration and cheers by the easily deceived voters.
In another instance, the wife of the change maniac alongside the wife of the Vice President Dolapo Osinbanjo was seen buying suya in the street of Abuja. However, people see it as a normal episode but were gambit to believe that they were displaying a state of bounding, but they truth remains that this unusual move had many political pretention.
Conclusively, hawking is one of those root businesses in Nigeria. Though it stains the image of the country and it is hazardous to the one hawking, yet politicians have never ceased to use hawking as a medium of campaigns and to display their acclaimed love for the masses. Gov. El-Rufai should set out modalities that will make life comfortable for the people. Stopping hawking in Kaduna at this point will spell more hardship. Gov. Ambode of lagos should go after the Agberos. Stopping these sellers from earning their daily bread on the street will resort to robbery.
The question is: will hawking ever stop in Nigeria?