The 'loud, furious' world of Nigeria's free readers

Story highlights

  • Men gather around newspaper vendors to read headlines, debate issues of the day
  • Called free readers associations because no-one actually buys the papers they read
  • Debates loud and furious as Nigerians go to the polls to choose a new president

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)It's a unique world where friendships are forged, deals struck and more than the occasional argument breaks out.

Nigerians debate presidential elections on streets
lklv purefoy nigeria election free readers association_00010025

    JUST WATCHED

    Nigerians debate presidential elections on streets

MUST WATCH

Nigerians debate presidential elections on streets 01:13
Welcome to Nigeria's free readers associations -- where mostly young men gather around newspaper vendors to read the headlines and debate the issues of the day.
    They are called "free" because nobody actually buys the newspapers they are reading.
    Why Boko Haram isn't the only issue for Nigerians
    nigeria elections explainer busari boko haram orig_00015806

      JUST WATCHED

      Why Boko Haram isn't the only issue for Nigerians

    MUST WATCH

    Why Boko Haram isn't the only issue for Nigerians 02:07
    Discussions among the free readers are loud and furious and have only intensified as Nigeria goes to the polls to decide who will be the next president.
    Newspaper vendor John Mgbachi, a former shoemaker from Eastern Nigeria, who has a stand in Tinubu Square on Lagos Island said that far from being bad for business, he welcomes the free readers.
    "They are passionate about the news and and their presence is an advert for me," he said.
    Mgbachi told CNN that he often sees a big rise in numbers around football tournaments, mostly the Premier League, and also during the election campaign period.
    To avoid losing out on sales too much, Mgbachi has developed an interesting business model: "I decided not to make (reading) completely free. For some of the dailies, its 20 naira,(10 cents) 30 naira (15 cents) for the sports papers and 50 naira (30 cents) for the magazines.
    Boko Haram refugees find hardship in camps
    pkg elbagir nigeria life after boko haram_00011503

      JUST WATCHED

      Boko Haram refugees find hardship in camps

    MUST WATCH

    Boko Haram refugees find hardship in camps 03:58
    "It's not really a static price, it depends on the bargaining power of the person," he added.
    The free readers come from all walks of life and CNN spoke to analysts, an accountant and unemployed youth at the stand we visited.
    They talked about the excitement of discussing the current affairs with others while reading the daily newspaper. One told us he had made two very good friends and even landed a job offer.
    Mgbachi added there has a been a sharp decline in readers because most people now read their news on the internet.
    He added that the dire economic situation in the country meant that many Nigerians cannot afford to buy newspapers.
    Most of Nigeria's $70 billion oil wealth is concentrated in the hands of a politically connected elite while many of its citizens struggle to make ends meet.