THE PROBLEM of developing
economies is not just dependency
on developed economies for finished
products of their industries, but
technical supports, financial aids
and being spoon fed with their
framed economic policies. This goes
to show how the former is still tied
to the apron string of the later in her
capitalist neo- liberal agenda. Right
from abinitio, when Great Britain
promoted buying of Africans as
slaves and afterward sets her foreign
policy aim of overseas colonial
territory, Africa had never known
At the dawn of independence,
African nation states had only
political independence while still
depending on the Western powers
to dictate and decide the fate of their
economy. The visionless crops of
political elites who do not understand
the essence of self examination as
the crucible of leadership qualities
are bereft of alternative agenda to
extricate Africa from the stranglehold
of the Western capitalists.
Today, after more than half a
century of self rule, the African
continent still depend on the West
that was the architect of her miserable
economic reality. Yet, the unrepentant
political elites of African countries
loot their nation’s treasuries very bad
and run to the developed economies
to invest. Back home, miseries is
the lots of the citizens of all African
countries as poverty; pestilence
and conflict are just but a tip of the
iceberg of the realities on ground.
It is against this harrowing graphic
illustration that we discuss this part
of the miseries with Nigeria as a case
Involving children in hawking
goods in the street is the emerging
trend in Nigeria and an issue of
concern. Hawking by children is a
form of child labour which entails the
act of moving through the streets and
other areas not designated as markets
to sell essential products. Hawking is the selling of things usually goods
along the roads or from one place to
another. One of the fundamental global
problems facing developing countries
today is the fact that the incidences of
children who work outside the family
to earn a living or to support their
families are increasing. Children are
known to engage in one form of work
or the other especially within the family.
In Nigeria, most especially in the urban
areas, children between the age of eight
years and fifteen are seen working. The situation in Nigeria according to
United Nations Children Emergency
Fund (UNICEF), child labour report
(2006), reported that 15 million children
under the age of 14 are working across
Nigeria, the report shows that 64% of
Nigerian between the age of five and
fourteen are involve in street vendors.
Most children hawk before going to
school in the morning and continue
after until night. Street hawking has
left many children out of school as they
dropout, or they are withdrawn by their
parents, guardians or masters. Out of
schoolchildren do not intend to do
hawking as permanent vocations, yet, a
good number are either school dropout
or never attended school category.
Majority of Nigerian parents believe
that children are God sent helpers both
economically and for other purposes.
This notion has led many families
into producing many children
especially in the Nigerian agrarian
society. There is also a link between
child street hawking and parental loss
in Nigeria. Parental loss could mean;
death of parents, divorce, separation
and incapability. Children react in
different ways to parental loss. Children
who are not cared for, educated or
settled moved out to streets and cities
to engage in various form of child
labour including street hawking. The
prevailing poverty condition shows in
the growing pressure on children in the
street making a living by scavenging,
hawking etc. The higher the poverty
rate, the higher the numbers of street
children. Other predisposing factors
of child street hawking are; high cost
of living, lack of sponsorship, poor
school performance, poor parenthood,
large family size, peer group pressure,
poor home conditions, and loss of
parents, unemployment, cultural and
religious factors coupled with lack of enforcement of labour legislation.
Child Street hawking affects
negatively on educational career,
academic performance and subsequent
withdrawal or dropping out of school.
All these encourage the development of
delinquent behaviour. Street hawking is
a very common form of child labour in
most cities in Nigeria including Abuja,
Lagos, Ibadan, Sokoto, Port Harcourt,
Enugu, Jos and Benin, especially, where
incomes are low and inadequate to
cater for a whole family. The child, his
family members, community, state and
nation stand to share the brunt of the
child’s involvement in street hawking.
The government’s enforcement
strategies to eradicate street hawking,
especially by children has not yielded
much effort. While the number of
juvenile hawkers keeps increasing
daily, related researches on child labour
are concentrated on street children
generally while issues specifically on
hawking are treated as passing fancy
in the available ones. The Nigeria
policy makers are caught up with
deciding whether street hawking
among schoolchildren is to be entirely
eradicated or given a legal status. Those
that advocated for the continuance of
hawking have looked at it from the
immediate economic standpoint. On
the contrary, researches have shown
that when children work as wages
earners to supplement the family
income, it may solve some family
economic problems but create new
ones for both the children and the
Long hours of hawking in order
to contribute to family income by
the children of school age have their
attention divided between academic
work and income generating activities.
This ugly trend leads to decline in
academic performance of the children
in school.
Scholars have classified theories
of poverty into five notably;
poverty caused by individual
deficiencies, poverty caused
by cultural belief systems that
support subcultures of poverty,
poverty caused by economic,
political and social distortions or
discrimination, poverty caused by
geographical disparities, poverty
caused by cumulative and cyclical
This first theory of poverty is
a large and multifaceted set of
explanations that focus on the
individual as responsible for
their poverty situation. Typically,
politically conservative theoreticians
blame individuals in poverty for
creating their own problems, and
argue that with harder work and
better choices the poor could have
avoided (and now remedy) their
The second theory of poverty
roots its cause in the “culture of
poverty”. This theory is sometimes
linked with the individual theory
of poverty or other theories to be
introduced below, but it recently
has been so widely discussed that,
its special features should not be
minimized. This theory suggests
that poverty is created by the
transmission over generations of
a set of beliefs, values, and skills
that are not necessarily to blame
because they are victims of their
dysfunctions subculture or culture.
Theorists in this tradition look
not to the individual as a source
of poverty, but to the economic,
political, and social system that
causes people to have limited
opportunities and resources with
which to achieve income and
Rural poverty, ghetto poverty,
urban disinvestment, Southern
poverty, third world poverty,
and other framings of problems
represent a spatial characterization
of poverty that exists separate
from other theories. While these
geographically based theories of
poverty build on the other theories,
this theory calls attention to the
fact that people, institutions, and
cultures in certain areas lack the
objective resources needed to
generate well claim redistribution.
Ameh writes from Owukpa
Akatekwe Kingdom in Ogbadibo
LGA of Benue State

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