Teen hawkers: Child abuse a norm?

Child abuse can be seen as a situation whereby the fundamental human right of a child is neglected. In most cases, the child is exposed to unnecessary hardship and odds in life.

The term “Child abuse” might ring a bell here, but the fight against it is limited to ink on white paper. It appears that we have switched off our consciousness towards this demeaning practise.

Statistics have shown that about eight million children of school age are out of school, meaning that the reason for high level of illiteracy in the country is not far fetched.

kids are maltreated everyday under the guise of ‘discipline’. Just maybe a little ‘F5’ or ‘Command R’ on Child abuse would do.

Below are few of the numerous abuses children in Nigeria experience;

Batter for every little mistake; calling names (big head, olodo etc.), ridicule (always comparing them with other kids), excessive criticism (all he or she does is wrong, never an accolade), street hawking, withholding communication (denial of friendship), denial of education (used as maids or sales personals) and many more.

The flash-light is however on street hawking.

Teen street hawking is not new to the Nigerian scene, as every major road in the country has them like kiosks (Abokis) on every street.

As inhumane as this practise may be, which is actually child abuse, it has become a “normal thing” (We see it and look some place else) in our society.

A recent experience with a street trader left me disturbed about the future of our country. A teenage girl within the ages of 17 and 19, ran to me with a product she was selling ( the product looked like some concoction made by a witch/wizard doctor in a bottle). It wasn’t my first time of encountering such, so my response was “not again” with a smile.

Things got a little awkward though, as this anonymous teen hawker who was supposedly trying to persuade me into buying what I may never have use for, started acting unruly. She dragged my hands towards fondling with her … all in the name of marketing.

In disbelieve and disgust (not that she was dirty), I shoved her aside and walked away wearing a “Whadda…???” expression on my face.

For God sake!!!!!!!! why would a young girl who should be at home with her parents, be trying to market something at 8:00 pm and in that manner? Is she marketing the product or herself? I couldn’t phantom the reason for such desperate exhibition until I had a flashback on a similar incident earlier this year.

At about 10:00 pm on the streets of Victoria Island, Lagos, two young girls came to me for the same purpose.

Being compelled by their marketing prowess and persuasiveness, I decided to purchase whatever it is they were selling and used it as a collateral to ask few questions on why they were out marketing stuffs at such an unholy hour.

According to one of the girls, they had milestones to meet if they were to get their pay (most of the money coming from the number of sales they had made i.e Commission marketing). She also said that they had to complete their target for the day to avoid being fired by their boss, as their job was a means through which they kept life going and settled some bills.

At that time of the day??? Who are these bosses and do they have the well being of these girls in mind or just concerned about their money, not thinking how they go about getting it?

What if these young ladies are raped? what if they are killed for some dubious reasons by dubious humans? What if…??? The dangers in which these teenagers are exposed to are numerous.

The truth is that these girls are not doing these odd jobs because they are loving it, “na condition make crayfish bend”.

It is saddening and alarming because I want to believe that in a country like Nigeria, there are laws guiding against such abuses.

In 2003, the National Assembly passed the Child’s Rights law, as a way of tackling such menace, but it seems not much has been done about street hawking. But as a HOPEFUL (that’s all we Nigerians have in abundance) country, let’s HOPE that one day, street hawking will be abolished and these children will be given a good opportunity of a sound education.

“A faulty foundation, needs no plan for a sky scrapper.”

PS: Although the child abuse law has been passed at the federal level, it is only effective if the State Assembly enacts it. Till date, only 16 out of the country’s 36 States have passed the Act.


Nigerians: Enemies of ourselves

The cold blooded killing of four young, promising and energetic Nigerians in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, left a question hanging in my mind “who is the enemy?”.

How on earth can a fellow man, probably from the same clan, maybe next door neighbours, carry out such a hideous act on a brother and gracefully sleep well at night???

I could barely watch for a minute the gruesome video that portrayed the highest act of inhumanity and couldn’t help myself but imagine how those predators who committed the dastard act stabbed mercy by employing all sorts of death tools to the demise of their preys. They watched their victims beg for a second chance at life.

The suspects may have stolen one thing or the other, but come on, even as much as I have deep loathe for thieves, they didn’t deserve such an untimely end as there were other ways to deal with them.

Disturbing images of the #ALUU4 still surface in my thoughts.

A similar incident occurred in Lagos some years ago when a little boy (he was between the ages of 15 and 18), who was alleged to have stolen a baby, was charred in front of a partisan crowd.

The crowd cheered (kill him!!! Kill him!!!…Bring petrol!!!… Bring tire!!!) as this little boy was ferociously beaten and drag on Lagos roads before being burnt to death by savage humans who had seared their conscience. And just like the #ALUU4 incident, security officials were no where to be found (I bet they would have surfaced if the least of our country’s valuable notes were involved).

In the light of this cruel habit, if we Nigerians have so much detest for thieves, why is Dimeji Bankole still walking around a free man? Why is Obasanjo still farming at Ota, why is Farouk Lawan still living in the comfort of his house? According to reports, these men have misdirected fund records. Simply put, dem dey steal our money. Or have they not stolen enough to warrant such jungle justice?

Besides the aforementioned men, those in the administrative helms of this country steal more than the eyes can see and yet walk around as free as birds. They even dare to flaunt it at our faces and yet no one has stepped up to neither cast the first stone nor scratch a match stick (it all ends on paper with no action). Then, why jungle justice on people who God might have had a different plan for in the near future, when HE doesn’t dish out judgement upon us even in all our shortcomings.

It is obvious that we Nigerians are the enemies of ourselves. Ironically, those who sent those young men to their early graves could be robbers themselves. Well, I would like to remind them that “those who live by the sword will die by the sword”, so the Bible says . And for those who don’t believe in the Bible, I’m sure they know the law of Karma.

If we do not have love for one another and yet cry everyday that our leaders are the reason for our problems, of what use is our struggle for a better Nigeria? Is this how we intend making a change?

“Death is not the end, the extinction of love for humanity is.”

I weep for our nation.