Gov Ambode and the Street Traders: Like Others, This Law Also Will Go with the Sun


Ithought by now there would have been plans to build more prisons in Lagos State?
More prisons? I thought you’d mention more schools, since more and more people are streaming into Lagos, with the ancient belief that Lagos is a land flowing with milk and honey.

Yes, some of those people streaming into Lagos would eventually need the services of the prisons as well.
How do you mean?

How else? The prison yard is for criminals and suspects.
So what makes strangers to Lagos veritable candidates for the prison?

You talk as if you are not in this Lagos. Did you not hear of the new law banning street trading in Lagos as announced by the governor himself? Didn’t you hear?
I heard, but didn’t think highly of such an ill-thought law.

It doesn’t matter if you think it is an ill-thought law or not. If they catch you buying plantain chips on the road, as you often do, you and the seller will benefit from the six months’ free accommodation scheme in Kirikiri prison or the more prestigious Ikoyi prison, unless you have N90,000 to pay as fine.
You see why I said it is an ill-conceived law?
Do you know that all those street traders you see running after Danfo buses or car owners at traffic points don’t have up to N3,000 worth of goods on their heads or arms? Somebody’s total wares is not worth N3,000 and you want to fine such a person N90,000. You see why I said they should have built more prisons? After all, many of those street traders do not even have accommodation. They just use those traffic runs to keep themselves busy as well as maintaining body and soul.

Look, the intent of the law is to discourage street trading. There are too many street traders in Lagos. Haba! This is a mega-City. In which other megacity in the world do you have such level of citizen indiscipline? Do you know the mass of street traders scares potential investors and discourages tourism? Need I educate you on the menace they cause the innocent public?
Why are you talking as if you just came from Australia yesterday? Don’t you know how our people are struggling to make ends meet? Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem?

We must do away with these baseline sentiments that have held us down for years. Must they come to Lagos? They should remain in their towns and villages. They can undertake farming and make even more money than come to endanger the lives of other people on Lagos streets.
Didn’t you hear how one of them ran into a moving BRT bus and got crushed? How can we be losing our citizens to such social nuisance?

(mimicking) How can we be loshing our shitizens tcu such nuishansh….
You forget that it is the failure of government that forces these citizens to embark on street trading in the first place. You also forget that it is the same agents of failed government that chased the hawker into his grave. Do you know that the KAI officials always extort the hawkers and sometimes seize the wares of the traders including even pot of soup of Mama-Put operators? Do they take such items to Gov Ambode?

That is the same point I am making. They don’t have to hawk on the street. There are several other things they can do to earn a…
( cuts in) Several other things like what?

They can go learn a skill. They can learn how to play football or become musician, actor or comedian… those skills are selling like mad in Nigeria. They don’t have to do regular formal jobs. They can become agents to big retail shops and stores… I mean there are just many things they can do besides street trading.
Hmmm, it is easier said than done. One thing I can assure you is that this law will not stand.  It will go with the sun. You can see the amount of public revolt against it. You can see how the law has been roundly ignored, defied and mocked.
Did you see anybody obeying the law?

Don’t try the will of government. As long as it is a law, it is binding, until it is repealed.
I don’t care whether it is repealed or not. What I am saying is that it will not stand. It will go with the sun like many such obnoxious and dubious laws. Do you remember that there was once a law banning the throwing away of dirt/item from a moving vehicle? Is it still being observed? Have you forgotten there was once a law stipulating that commercial vehicles should not go more than 50Kmph and private cars should not go more than 60kmph within the Lagos metropolis? Who is still remembering all that? Have you forgotten all the noise made about banning of Okada riders on specified streets in Lagos and how thousands of motorcycles were seized, butchered and sold off? Today, Okada riders courageously ply Third Mainland bridge, sometimes with two passengers, without any helmet.

Have you also forgotten all the ruckus noise that followed the ban on the use of telephone while driving on Lagos roads? Does anybody remember all that today?
Or is it the Lagos tenancy law? Do landlords still keep to it? So you see, this latest law will go with the sun. It shall not last. My father used to say that whatever is hot will soon get cold. Just wait. You will confirm what I am saying.

My brother, don’t deceive or delude yourself. Law is law. The day you will fall into the trap of government , you will realise that all these laws you are quoting are all stored up in the jurisprudential library of the state. And they will be exhumed and applied when the need arises. My candid advice is that you stay on the side of the law.
I am not lawless. But the laws of the state must be reasonable. Law is made for man and not man for law. Go and tell Gov Ambode what I am telling you.

I will show you where his office is so you can tell him yourself.
If they want to stop street trading, let them work on the notorious traffic snarl on Lagos roads. It is traffic that breeds street trading. Let them fix bad roads. The street traders wait for motorists at bad portions of the road to sell their wares since motorists are bound to slow down at such points. And those who want to continue trading, government must make it easy for them to own or rent stores where they can trade.
If Gov Ambode insists on enforcing the law without these fundamentals being in place, he should hire squads and platoons of special enforcers to drive the new law. And he can be sure that his victory will only be pyrrhic.
Hmmmmm, you seem to be an ex-street trader.