March 27, 2023

There’re 15m child workers in Nigeria — FG

child labour

•Over 160m children actively engaged in child labour globally-ILO

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

The Federal Government has said not less than 15 million children were  involved in child labour in the country.

This is even as the International Labour Organization, ILO, lamented that about 160 million children were actively engaged in child labour globally.

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Kachollom Daju, who disclosed news of the 15 million children engaged in child labour, said government was not resting on its oars to see that the fight against child labour and forced labour was reduced to the barest minimum, if not completely eradicated.

She noted that children who were 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,  in the interest of the country.

Daju 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.

“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.”

Similarly, the International Labour Organization, ILO, laments the fact that about 160 million children were currently actively engaged in child labour globally.

The Director, ILO Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Liaison Office for ECOWAS, Ms Venessa Phala, who disclosed this at a stakeholders meetibng in Abuja weekend, said children had a right to better lives than engage 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 ILO Convention on the World of Work.

She said:   “We all know that the number of children engaging in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide, which is represents 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.”