Victoria fondly called Vicky is a 12-year-old newspaper vendor who uses the money she makes from the lucrative business to meet her school needs.
The teenage vendor, who is currently in Junior Secondary, JSS III started selling papers at age 9 and makes between N500 and N600 proceeds on the average daily from the venture.
Vicky said she also makes money by giving out the regular tabloids (daily) for N50.00 and sports newspaper for N20.00 to those who come to her stand to read and return the paper and still gets to sell the paper to those who want to buy.
The young girl says she sells papers to many prominent people who live in her area which includes; Prof. Ben Ayade, the present governor of Cross River state even before he became governor, commissioners, House of Assembly members, judges, businessmen, amongst others.
Vicky said her school runs two sessions and she attends the afternoon session, which affords her time to sell newspapers in the morning before leaving for school.
She wakes up as early as 5.30 every morning and heads to the newspaper distribution point at Bassey Duke Street, to collect the day’s papers when they arrive from Port Harcourt and Asaba every morning. By 8.00 am, she is already at her stand where some customers were waiting for her to arrive with the day’s papers. Hear her;
“If there is a breaking news, before I get here, people are waiting for me, but som
e days, especially during the rainy season, because of the bad roads, papers arrive here late, except during weekends whether bad road or no bad road, the van drivers do manage to get here on time since the papers are produced early.”
The hardworking girl says she uses the money she makes to meet her needs in school and pay her fees, except when there is an urgent need at home and her parents have no money, then she could help out. In her words:
“I use the money to meet my school needs, but sometimes, I help at home when my parents ask me to, may be they have no immediate cash at that time.”
Describing the business as quite lucrative, Vicky said she was yet to decide if she would continue being a vendor after her education.
Child vendors have seen a growing concern from the public in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, given that street vending is a major means of survival for many families. Statistics reveal that because there are not enough jobs: only a sixth of Africans under the age of 35 are in formal employment.
Just last week, an Ilorin based lawyer, Barrister Tunde Jimoh called on the Federal Government to impose a ban on hawking by children.
According to Barrister Jimoh, by doing so, the government must protect the children from the hazards of child hawking and safeguard their future.
He said that hawking has ruined the lives of promising Nigerian children, with many of them lured into different negative acts beyond their mental scope, and has also caused set back to the lives of many teenagers who are lured into prostitution, abusing hard drugs and other vices.