The Federal Government has pledged to continue collaborating with stakeholders in developing and implementing collective strategies to eradicate child labour.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Kachollom Daju, mni, made the pledge in Abuja when she led a road-walk, which is part of activities to commemorate the 2023 World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL), with the theme: “Social Justice for All. End Child Labour”.
She stated that 43% of Nigerian children, aged between 5 and 11 years are estimated to be involved in economic activities, including being engaged in the worst forms of Child Labour.
Citing the 2016 – 2017 MICS Survey, Daju said, “39 % 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.”
She noted that “the WDACL serves as a reminder that the fight against child labour requires sustained efforts and collective action by the whole society.”
Daju remarked that “Child Labour is 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.”
She stated that the 2023 WDACL called for “Reinvigorated international action to achieve social justice, with the elimination Child Labour as one of its key elements; Universal ratification of ILO Convention No 138 on Minimum Age and ILO Convention 182 on Worst Forms of Child Labour, and Effective implementation of the Durban Call to Action.”
Daju maintained that Federal Government recognized the importance of addressing the issue of child labour and had remained committed to eradicating the menace.
According to her, government’s commitment to tackling child labour include encouraging state governments and policy makers to enact and enforce child-friendly legislations to protect children from exploitation and ensures access to quality education.
She also stated that the federal government remained committed to providing support to grassroots organizations and implementing initiatives dedicated to combating child labour, rehabilitation and empowerment of child labour victims and vulnerable households.
According to Daju, the federal government’s commitment to the global fight against child labour and its worst forms is evidenced in interventions, programmes, activities and partnerships, such as the adoption and ratification of ILO Conventions No.138 and No.182; Review of the National Policy on Child Labour and the National Action Plan on the Elimination of Child Labour.
The commitment is also shown in “the Enactment of the Child Rights Act to domesticate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the domestication of the Act by the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT; 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.”
Others include the “Review of the Labour Act to mainstream Child Labour into the Labour Standards Bill which replaces the Labour; Adopting 15 years as the minimum age for employment; Development and validation of Child Labour Reporting App and National Referral Mechanism (NRM) in collaboration with the ILO through the ACCEL Africa Project.”
The Permanent Secretary also noted that Nigeria has been collaborating with the ILO, through the ACCEL Africa Project, the Action Against Child Labour in West Africa (ACLAWA) and Global Accelerator Lab (GALAB) in the fight against child labour.
According to her, the federal government has also established “the National Steering Committee on the Elimination of Child Labour (NSCCL) to strengthen institutions mandated to monitor the elimination of Child Labour across the country.”
The Permanent Secretary, however, pointed out that some of the challenges in the elimination of Child Labour in Nigeria include poverty, cultural/religious factors, poor educational system, inadequate Social Protection systems, and wrong perception/ ignorance of the negative effects of Child Labour.
In a goodwill message, the Permanent Secretary, Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, SAN, represented by Director, Women and Children, Grace Pam, stated that the WDACL “serves as a powerful catalyst for change, to amplify the voices of those children unheard and marginalized.”
He urged all stakeholders to address the fundamental cause of child labour with vigour.