As ILO partners African/ Nigerian governments to tackle child labour…

The menace of child labour in developing countries and Nigeria in particular would soon be a thing of the past as the government of Netherland has committed itself to help check the menace as ELEOJO IDACHABA writes with contributions from agency reports.

The Nigerian child is said to be one of the most under-privileged in the world, according to statistics from the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF). According to the global body, children in this part of the world suffer deprivation in the form of malnourishment, lack of access to education and worst of all child labour. According to reports, in almost all the geographical zones of the country, the story is the same.

This is given prominence by the number of children who hawk wares for their respective guardians during school hours as a condition for daily meal.

According to Mrs Ronke Adisa, a child right advocate, “It is an alarming situation in major cities where it is assumed that the wealth is located. Here, it is common sight to see children hawking on the streets and roads when actually they are supposed to be in school. From selling bread to groundnuts, packaged food on the highway traffic to selling water sachet, they are there. These are supposed to be leaders of tomorrow but the non-chalant attitude of policy makers is responsible for majority of these lapses.”

 It is in the light of this that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said that it is working with the federal government and some state governments in the country to eliminate child labour in Nigeria by the year 2025.

The international country director of ILO for Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia, Mr Dennis Zulu, stated this recently at a one day stakeholders meeting on the elimination of child labour in selected West Africa sub region and Nigeria in particular.

Being funded by the government of Netherlands, the project is tagged, ‘Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chains in Africa’ and it is to go round in African countries where the prevalence of child labour is more intense.

Mr Zulu, who was represented at the ceremony by the national coordinator ACCEL Africa project, Dr Agatha Kolawole, said that the good thing about the project is that Nigeria had earlier indicated her interest towards the eradication of child labour during the Fourth Global Conference on Sustained Eradication of Child Labour held in Argentina in November 2018.

According to Zulu, “Nigeria indicated interest in being a pathfinder country and this is a giant stride in the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 8.7, given her position as Africa’s most populous nation and its impact at the regional level.

“As you are aware, SDG 8.7 states that member states should take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour and also end modern slavery and human trafficking in all its ramifications.

“Also to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour including recruitment and use of child soldiers and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.

“The willingness and commitment of the Nigeria government in the eradication of child labour led to the support from the government of Netherlands to fund the project being officially presented in Niger state today,” he said.

 “Let me inform you that in Nigeria, the project would focus on two supply chains: artisanal gold mines in Niger state and cocoa in Ondo state,” he said.

He said that the federal and Niger state governments both expressed their interest to collaborate with the international body towards the implementation of the ACCEL Africa project.

The director, who is also in charge of the Liaison Office for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), said the project would support stakeholders in accelerating action in the elimination of child labour using the supply chain approach.

He expressed optimism that the effective and efficient implementation of the project would result in the reduction of child exploitation in the artisanal gold mines and the cocoa supply chains.

Similarly, Mr Ajuwon Adeniyi, a deputy director in the Inspectorate Division, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, noted that some challenges were militating against the elimination of child labour.

Adeniyi says that one of the factors is inadequate funding from national and state actors, international donors and private sector.

He said that skills and material deficiencies limit the capacity of labour inspectors to access the rural areas and the informal economy of the urban centres where child labour is predominant.

He noted that other factors include the lack of accurate data on child labour, lack of active and sustain referral mechanism, ethno-cultural/religious beliefs and pervasive poverty.

He therefore suggested the empowerment of the household with multiple income streams through skills acquisitions in order to eliminate the scourge.

Adeniyi said that a baseline survey on child labour be carried out to end the menace, therefore he suggested the development of a database platform using case management approach that would ensure that victims are identified and managed by case workers.

Also, the permanent secretaries, Ministries of Education and Mineral Resources, respectively, Alhaji Abubakar Aliyu and Dr Joseph James, say that the state government’s free and compulsory education policy would help the project eliminate child labour because it is the key to empowerment.

They are of the belief that both formal and informal educations are critical in eliminating child labour.

It is therefore the belief of every Nigerian that as the world rolls into the year 2015, the menace of child labour in Africa especially Nigeria would be eradicated or reduced minimally in line with the expectations of the global body and the government of Netherland so that Africa would no longer be tagged as a dark continent.

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