By Victor Young
The International Labour Organisation, ILO, has declared that Nigeria is key in eliminating child labour, trafficking and slavery in Africa as she is a pathfinder country in 8.7 Alliance against modern slavery.
The Director General of the ILO Mr. Guy Ryder made the declaration at a high level bilateral meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige by the sidelines of the on-going conference, entitled “Taking Next Steps; Ending Child Labour by 2025,” taking place in Leiden, Netherlands.
While commending Nigeria for her untiring efforts, Mr. Ryder said “Africa being in the conference is extremely important”, noting that the bilateral forum was to discuss the country’s efforts, peculiar challenges and sort out areas of cooperation in order to bolster Nigeria’s capacity at winning the battle against modern slavery.
In his response, the Minister catalogued the efforts of the Federal Government, remarking the domestication of the ILO Conventions 138 and 182 on the Minimum Age and Worst Forms of Child Labour and the enactment of the Child Rights Acts of 2003, to consolidate all the existing laws on the fundamental rights of children.
Ngige informed the Director General of the policy document approved by the Federal Executive Council on National Policy on Child Labour , National Action Plan for the Elimination of Child Labour as well as the comprehensive list of activities amounting to Hazardous Child Labour.
He further said the National Social Investment Programme was designed to tackle poverty, boost the enrolment of children in schools through a home grown school feeding programme and stem the tide of unemployment among youths vulnerable to modern slavery.
The Minister argued that central to the raging social problem was poverty, hence, asked that international cooperation be focused on assistance to the education of the deprived child, institutionalization of the social welfare programmes to empower poor parents and provision of logistics for mass mobilization against child labour .
“We will need assistance to site special schools in the mining fields of Zamfara, Niger, Katsina, Nasarawa and Plateau States, in the cocoa plantations of Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Abia as well as in the palm oil farms of Imo, Abia , Cross River, Anambra, Edo among others where poverty has taken children away from schools,” Ngige pleaded with the ILO Director General .
On anti-labour practices such as casualization, insufficient paid work, working-poor among others, the Minister said the Ministry’s strategy was to sensitize all the social partners to their responsibilities, citing the pressure on Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) to expand its activities to all the states of the federation to net in dispersed private sector groups and ease accountability to labour standards. He further stated the Ministry was tackling the recent unilateral declaration of redundancy by some banks.