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 peace.
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 study.
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
Children hawking in the street
Features
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
The issue of poverty and child labour in developing countries is giving experts concerns. In this piece, OGBU
A. AMEH, a social researcher, examines the causes and implications of this social ill.
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 society.
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 interdependencies.
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 problems.
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
wellbeing.
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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