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Bassey Inyang in Calabar
At a period most state governments view street hawking as a dangerous nuisance that should be stopped by every lawful means, the governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade, is looking at it differently,and has given indication that his administration will legalise it.
In the opinion of the governor, the ban on street hawking as obtains in some states of the country constitutes the violation of the human rights of individuals who are denied the opportunity to make a living from that form of business.
Ayade said the street hawkers are among the weakest in the society that require government protection.
Addressing journalists in Calabar on Wednesday evening, Ayade said he has already fowarded a bill to the State House of Assembly to give legal strength to those who engage in the business of street hawking.
“I have just sent the Hawkers’ Right Bill to the House of Assembly to provide a right for hawking.
“You cannot tell a man not to sell his goods because he does not have money to rent a store. And you tell the man not to steal?
“Just provide a regulatory framework; there should be reflective outfits, there should be a minimum age of 18 to hawk. You will have a time frame when you come out so that you don’t constitute nuisance.
“But, to prohibit hawking is to tell a man I don’t want to give you food, and I don’t want you to steal.
“It is unfair. They have right to seek and determine how they chose to live within the ambits of the law.
“Cross River would the first state that would officially recognize hawking.
“The core mandate of a leader should be the social security of his people. If a man chooses to hawk, if you are government that is sensitive and understands the real principle and objective of the law, then you will know that the hawker has a right.”