The Ban on Street Trading in Lagos is Wrong
Obadiah Oghoerore Alegbe
It is most unfortunate that in a country like ours where everybody is struggling independently to make ends meet, those in power are bent on making life impossible for the people.
The rulers of Africa are abandoning the people. A government policy should be based on the idiosyncrasy of the people and education used as a tool to produce necessary changes within.
Nigeria has been so ruled that dictatorship for so long a time that none of those in power understands that the greatest political power lies within the civil rights.
Sadam Hussein ruled the people with so much fear that when the enemy came, the enemy just walked in. If Iraqi had been granted their civil rights within their own culture, they would never have been conquered. In West Africa, soothsayers given power by traditional rulers abused of the gift given to them from above and mislead the rulers into taking unnecessary decision giving their citizens into slavery instead of protecting the people against invaders, Africa is paying dearly for the errors of the past. The saddest of all is that in this twenty-first century, Africans are still abusing of their traditions based on hospitality and looking for solution where they know that it does not exist.
While transport is a big problem in Nigeria, Nigerians who moved in to ease the situation by importing vehicles that can ease transport have their vehicles trapped at Apapa wharf because of custom duties. The customs and excise enjoy making life impossible for importers. Nigeria charges 100 percent duties on tomatoes when there is shortage of tomatoes in the world, Nigeria charges high duties on food stuff when we do not produce enough, on the end, when Western activist provoke a crisis and create a disaster area in Nigeria, free food will be imported into the country boosting the economy of foreign producers. That will be the result of anti-people policy. Nigeria should apply a liberal policy in all and tighten points that favour citizens.
John Holt came from England to Nigeria selling cigarettes on Nigeria’s Western railway line until he suddenly opened a wide range of supper markets in the country. During that time Kingsway, UTA and many others spread across the nation forming powerful economic group. In 1973, I used to see the owner of KWallarams at Mariana Lagos with his small clothes shop and I was surprised during my visit to Nigeria in 1991 to see the sky scraper with the golden top built by him. There is an economy that favours the powerful and oppresses the weak in Nigeria.
Nigerians in their quest for progress took to the had side of the story and street trading form a commercial part of our tradition, we are a people that are not beggars, we are a people with dignity, we are economically independent minded. I did street trading at Imodi and Erin Oke for my mother as a child. I sold newspaper at Erin Oke in 1963. Street trading got many Nigerians busy and helped them participate somehow in the economy. In Benin City in 1973, I saw those Igbo boys with admiration work as house boy for six month on salary of five pounds to later buy clothes to make shirts to sell and in a year open shop. This is the quality of a people that want progress but our leaders of today with their evil experts from the World Bank insist on submitting the people to servitude.
I protest this anti-people law that is promulgated in Lagos and call on Gov. Tinubu to take side with the people against the policies of hunger from the World Bank. Madam Tinubu was a woman of the people and the Governor should be loyal to his ancestors by opposing laws and regulations that are against the people.
Stopping street trading in Lagos is very dangerous, what the government need to do is to apply regulation such as safety measures and the kinds of medical drugs that can not be sold freely.
The ban on street trading will boost the economy of the powerful few, street trading is part of African culture and must be encouraged for all to participate in the economy.
Lagos is a city built by and for all Nigerians and Lagosians should chose as leaders the people of Lagos and not by the tribe nor religion. This anti-people law banning street trading can never by applied by those who take pride in the greatness of Lagos. Lagos is a booming city of business and street trading makes business boost in Lagos.
Up to a million street traders are on Lagos Street daily, to proscribe the people of this tradition is to encourage illegality. We must reduce illegality by taking into consideration the customs and tradition of the people. The African customs and tradition should be supreme above imported values if we are to continue to exist as a people.
Our governors are importing the wrong materials from the Western World, what need be imported are among other solid infrastructure in electricity, gas, water, funding for education and health. The United States have no foreign reserve; the Americans create a budget and produce to reach the goal. Nigeria should spend all the billions in foreign reserve today into roads, electricity, water, health and education before 2007, if IBB wins, the money will be shared by crooks as happened after 1979.
I repeat, I protest the law banning street trading in Lagos because I believe that it is anti-people, I propose instead a need for a regulation that favours safety and security. I do sincerely remind Governor Tinubu that your easy route to America was boosted by street trading, by the little I know of your history during the diploma scandal you seem to be a product of the African heartland of traditions and customs and your surname ‘Tinubu’ makes it evident the name of a Nigerian heroine of the people Madam Tunubu, for this reason, do not turn your back on the people, you are one Governor that I had admired for ruling that cosmopolitan state with energy, do not disappoint me. Dear Governor, I am negotiating some engineering on railways which if I succeed may finance a journey back home and do hope to bring back home to you a small solution to the complex transport problem in Lagos and I sincerely hope to have the honour of meeting you.
Obadiah Oghoerore Alegbe