Cross River governor goes tough on child labour

Eme Offiong, Calabar

Cross River State, Ben Ayade

Children below the age of eighteen will be banned from street hawking in Cross River State, southern Nigeria.

Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State gave this indication in Calabar during a quarterly briefing with journalists in Calabar, the capital city.

Professor Ayade, who condemned the growing number of children engaged in street trading, said his administration would stop at nothing to protect the weakest of society, noting “our priority in Cross River State is the absolute protection of our people – women, men, young and old, youths including our children. No matter how anyone may view this, child labour is detrimental to the growth of children and should be discouraged”.

While I do not want to impoverish our people because they must survive; the protection of our future leaders is vital to the survival of any nation. So, discouraging street hawking by children will also secure their lives and future.”

Hawking Bill  

To enforce this concern, Senator Ayade revealed that an executive bill to regulate street trading was before the Cross River State House of Assembly.

According to him, the bill also seeks to protect the rights of hawkers through a framework that will ensure that only people from eighteen years and above, engage in the venture and in an orderly manner.

The Governor stated: “I have just sent a bill to the House of Assembly – the Hawkers Right Bill. You cannot tell a man not to sell his goods because he has no money to rent a kiosk. So, we are making provision for hawkers’ corridor”.

We are streamlining the age for persons who engage in street trading to a minimum of 18 years. The bill also indicate that you must be properly dressed with reflective attires as well as give such people a time frame to operate so as not to constitute public nuisance.”.

Governor Ayade added that the bill would eventually legalize street trading and enforce the implementation of the Child’s Rights Act, which was passed into law on May 29, 2009 in the state.