(News investigators) The Federal Government on Monday said over 43 per cent of Nigerian children between the ages of five and eleven are actively involved in economic activities, including the worst forms of Child Labour.
This is as the Ministry of Labour and Employment led by the Permanent Secretary, Kachollom Daju, embarked on street march in commemoration of the 2023 World Day Against Child Labour, WDACL, with the theme: “Social Justice for All. End Child Labour.”
The road walk, which started from the Federal Secretariat and terminated at headquarters of the National Human Rights Commission, Abuja, was aimed at reinvigorating international action to achieve social justice, and elimination of Child Labour.
Addressing participants at the road work, Kachollom said that the Federal Government recognizes the importance of addressing the issue of child labour hence its commitment to eradicating the menace.
She described Child Labour as a grave concern that affects millions of children worldwide, denying them of their fundamental rights to education, health, mental and moral development and a childhood free from all forms of exploitation.
Quoting the 2016 – 2017 MICS Survey, She said 39 percent of children involved in child labour are working under hazardous conditions including quarrying granite, artisanal mining, commercial sexual exploitation, armed conflict, and sometimes are victims of human trafficking.
According to her, “These figures reflect the degree of urgency required by the various actors working on child labour to proffer solutions to the reduction and possible elimination of child labour in Nigeria and globally.
“The WDACL serves as a reminder that the fight against child labour requires sustained efforts and collective action.
“The commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria in contributing to the global fight against child labour and its worst forms, is evidenced in the following interventions, programmes, activities and partnerships.
“The adoption and ratification of ILO Conventions No.138 and No.182. Enactment of the Child Rights Act to domesticate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The 36 States of the Federation and the FCT have domesticated the Child Rights Act.
“Review of the National Policy on Child Labour and the National Action Plan on the Elimination of Child Labour. Development of the List of Hazardous Child Labour. Review of the Labour Act to mainstream Child Labour into the Labour Standards Bill which replaces the Labour, including the adoption of 15 years as the minimum age for employment among others.
The Permanent Secretary, however listed some of the challenges in the elimination of Child Labour in Nigeria to include poverty, cultural/religious factors, poor educational system, inadequate social protection systems and wrong perception of the negative effects of Child Labour.
She said the Ministry of Labour and Employment intends to continue active collaboration with relevant stakeholders to develop and implement collective strategies that contribute to the eradication of child labour.
While engaging in advocacy interventions to encourage government (Federal and States) and policymakers to enact and enforce legislation that protects children from exploitation and ensures access to quality education.
She also noted that efforts were on to provide support to grassroots organizations and implement initiatives dedicated to combating child labour, rehabilitation and empowerment of child labour victims and vulnerable households.
In his goodwill message, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Mr. Tony Ojukwu, SAN, described Child labour as any work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and dignity and also harmful to their physical, mental growth and development.
He said Child labour perpetuates a cycle of deprivation, depriving children of their right to education, play and a nurturing childhood. It is therefore imperative that we recognize the urgent need to dismantle this cycle and create a world where no child is forced to sacrifice their potentials for the sake of survival.
According to him, “Data reveals the harsh reality we must confront. The ILO has lamented that about 160 million children are actively engaged in child labour globally. 72.1 million African children are estimated to be engaged in child labour and 31.5 million in hazardous work while 15 million child workers are in Nigeria.
“Despite considerable progress in recent years, an alarming number of children in Nigeria and across Africa still toll in hazardous conditions denied the opportunity to grow, learn and thrive. This commemoration provides us with an opportunity to confront these statistics head-on and devise comprehensive strategies that protect the rights of our children and secure a better future for generations to come.”