Lagos, our Lagos

I remember the early 60s in the Yaba area of Lagos mainland where I grew up. Life was fun, interesting and relatively safe. You could walk wherever you wanted without any molestation and thinking about it now you could buy whatever you wanted on the streets also without any molestation.

These days you cannot do that. You are harassed at every turn to part with your money to either criminals or street hawkers who are bent on making a sale whether you want the item or not. Street beggars are not left out in the scramble for your money. Indeed going out and coming back home in one piece in the jungle called Lagos is a miracle. Sometimes I wonder when, why and how Lagos became such a jungle of a market place. The whole place has been taken over by traders, and you could shop these days, without stepping into any shop or market. The result is utter chaos. Heavy traffic, crime and risk to lives – of the hawker and road users alike.

In a bid to change that, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode recently invoked the 13 year-old Lagos State Street Trading and Illegal Markets Prohibition Law 2003 to, among other things: develop the state and make it conducive for business – big business. Raise the status of the metropolis to world class level and create an atmosphere for the free flow of traffic and removal of perceived miscreants and criminals from the major highways. I have nothing against this law, which according to the facts listed above is meant to bring sanity back to Lagos. Yet I believe we should do first things first. What plans has the Ambode government put in place to justify putting these people out of job.

The majority of these hawkers are young school leavers and some illiterates who had come to Lagos in pursuit of the piece of the action, but who upon getting to Lagos found the story different. Some get sucked into crime while those who still had some modicum of decency end up in the streets as hawkers, okada riders or beggars. Lagos is attractive and there is very little any governor can do to stem the daily influx of fortune seekers. One of such impressionable persons was the young hawker who ended up a casualty on the first day the law went into force on July 1. He was run over by vehicles in the Maryland axis of Ikorodu Road, while trying to escape from the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) officials.

So what is the solution, if Ambode does not want to appear to be driving an ethnic agenda? I think an immediate alternative should be put in place or provisions made in the long term for their immediate reintegration into the society to enable them cater for themselves as well as their families. For hawking is their main source of livelihood. You need to see what some of these hawkers go through just to make a N50 sale of whatever item they are hawking. Let’s face it, the wealth of Lagos, as of any progressive economy is closely linked to the activities of street hawkers if well-managed. By the way, who is a hawker? A hawker is a vendor of merchandise that can be easily transported and in most places where the term is used; a hawker sells inexpensive items, handicrafts or food items. Yet interestingly, some big organisations like banks also engage in street hawking except that they call their personnel marketers. To me they are glorified hawkers because they move about trying to convince even Ambode’s street hawkers to come bank with them.

And come to think of it, street hawking goes on in different parts of the world, even in the so-called developed countries. The only difference is that it is better organised, which is what the Ambode government should be looking at. If street hawking were banned in South Korea, Kim Daewoo who started his multi-billion international Daewoo Group as a street hawker in Seoul, South Korea, would not have made it. Lagos and other states that are in a hurry to ban street hawking should think twice about the economic implications.


Re: Militants, herdsmen, armed robbers?

Nigeria is an ideal case study when we talk about a democratic system of government with insecurity, bloodshed, injustice, bribery, corruption, and embezzlement of public funds. President [Muhammadu] Buhari’s administration and the security agents must realise that they are dealing with devils incarnate and they must be prepared to treat them as such. President Buhari should prove his critics wrong that his trips abroad are not mere safaris or unnecessary junketing to the detriment of the much needed attention the country needs.

—Taiwo Sangotikun Iseyin, Oyo State. 08056309372


Militants, herdsmen, armed robbers as well as SARS officers all have no reasons for killing unjustifiably. At the same time killing in revenge will only worsen the situation. Secondly, God our creator is against killing as He pointedly stated in the Holy Bible.

—Rev. Afolabi M.G. Agodongbo, Oyo. 08074217723