The Federal Government has called for technical assistance from the United States in eliminating child labour in the country.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, made the call in Abuja when he received in audience, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.
He stated that the United States could assist the government of Nigeria in establishing schools and clinics in places where child labour is endemic, noting that such assistance would boost the efforts of government in tackling the malaise.
The Minister also called for logistics support, such as the provision of vehicles to assist in labour inspections across the states.
Dr Ngige also urged the United States government to put in place empowerment programmes in those places with propensity for child labour to counter poverty, which is the cause of such practices.
According to him, “Nigeria has been making a lot of effort; and we need support in the measures we have in place to tackle child labour.”
Dr Ngige noted that Government has been tackling the issues of child labour through the adoption of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on Child Labour and Forced Labour, and has put up a national steering committee on Child Labour, as well as state steering committees. He further noted that Nigeria had also adopted the Child Rights Act.
“As a country, we have adopted the ILO Convention on Child Labour, Forced Labour; and the Child Rights Act. We have also set up a National Steering Committee on the provision of Child Labour, Human Trafficking and Slavery, and established State Steering Committees”, he said.
The Minister maintained that child and illegal labour feed on poverty and illiteracy, and disclosed that government has put in place some social investment programmes such as school feeding and free education as measures to attract children to school and out of child labour.
He added that other efforts of government to keep children off the street and child labour include putting up national laws for compulsory school attendance by children with attendant punitive measures to tackle parents and guardians who run afoul of that law.
According to the Minister, “The Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act makes it compulsory for children to attend school, and it has a punitive side to it that compels parents to enrol their children in school.”
The Minister also said the government was in the process of upgrading its Skill Acquisition Certificate to international standard to enable the holders fit in professionally anywhere in the world.
He however pointed out that Nigerian professionals, resident in the United States add a lot of value to the US’ economy as they are highly skilled and conscientious workers.
The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard,Ambassador was on a familiarization visit to the Ministry to discuss labour-related issues.