…There ‘re 15m child workers in Nigeria–FG
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
The International Labour Organization, ILO, has lamented that about 160 million children are actively engaged in child labour globally.
This is the Nigeria government has said that there about 15 million child workers in the country.
Children mostly affected are under the ages of five to 17, with most of them working in jobs that deprive them of their childhood, interfere with their education or harm their mental, physical or social development.
Stakeholders in the labour circle, however, attributed the recent increase which is about 8.4 million to factors associated with poverty, insecurity and unemployment in the country.
In her remarks at the National Child Labour and Force Labour Survey Validation Workshop, held at the United Nations, UN, House in Abuja, the Director, ILO Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Liaison Office for ECOWAS, Ms Venessa Phala, said that children have a right to better lives than engaging in forced labour practices just to shore up income on behalf of their parents.
Phala argued that the practice of engaging under-aged children in eking out a living runs contrary to the ILO Convention on the World of Work.
According to her, “We all know that the number of children engaging in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide, which is representing an increase of 8.4 million children when compared with the last report.
“In eradicating the scourge of child labour and force labour in Nigeria, concerted efforts are required from all stakeholders, part of which is the development of monitoring infrastructure to determine and measure its magnitude, distribution, dimensions and characteristics at the national and sub-national levels.”
Corroborating the ILO’s position, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Kachollom Daju, said government is not resting on its oars to see that the fight against child labour and force labour is reduced to the bearest minimum, if not completely eradicated.
She noted that children who are seen as leaders of the future ought not to be exposed to such practices at a tender age but rather shown love and properly catered for, for the general good of the country.
She said, “Child labour is a multi dimensional development concern. It cuts across various lines: economic, social, religious, cultural and regional divides. The worst forms of child labour constitute exploitation and gross violation of human rights for both boys and girls, causing physical, emotional, and mental consequences for the child. Such violations take place at the household level, community level, institutions, and business areas.
“In Nigeria, child labour has become a scourge. Several children find themselves on the streets, forced to make a living, with others employed in industrial complexes and hazardous environments.
“This is attributable to various factors, such as poverty, ignorance, unemployment, absence of social security for the vulnerable, misinterpretation of cultural and religious beliefs and weak institutional framework.
“Statistics reveal that there are no fewer than 15 million child workers in Nigeria; this is according to the ILO, with the UN warning that the absence of mitigating strategies could see an exponential increase in the number of children engaged in child labour. This of course will certainly have massive implications for the future.
“Labour, Prohibition and Elimination of Forced Labour, Modern Slavery, and Human Trafficking in workplaces spearheaded by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, amongst many other achievements.
“As a country however, we take pride in stating that giant strides have been made in dealing with this menace. Most notably the adoption and ratification of ILO Conventions 138 and 182 on Minimum Age and Worst forms of Child Labour respectively; the passage of the Child Rights Act into law to domesticate the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by 35 state governments and the FCT; the review and the validation of the National Policy on Child Labour and the National Action Plan on the Elimination of Child Labour, Prohibition and Elimination of Forced Labour, Modern Slavery, and Human Trafficking in workplaces spearheaded by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, amongst many other achievements.
“The National Action Plan on the Elimination of Child Labour provides a roadmap for the implementation of the National Policy on Child Labour in Nigeria. This Plan of Action was designed for use in the prevention of and in response to child labour and its worst forms, reflecting the collective commitment of government, community-based organizations, and civil society groups towards ensuring better conditions for children in the country.
“I will use this opportunity to enjoin Nigerians across the federation to remain steadfast in the fight against the rising child labour, force labour and modern slavery practices so as to eradicate it from our society”.
She expressed expressing appreciation to the ILO Country Director, Ms. Vanessa Phala, and by extension, the ACCEL Africa Project Team, for organizing the Capitalization meeting.
“I would also like to commend the Netherlands Government for funding the ACCEL Africa Project, the members of the National Steering Committee, especially the National Bureau of Statistics for the conduct of the National Child Labour and Forced Labour Survey and other national and international stakeholders for their relentless efforts and commitment in the advocacy for the betterment of the Nigerian child, and the elimination of Child Labour, through the implementation of the ACCEL Africa Project in global supply chains in Africa.”