Labour Ministry Champions Renewed Fight Against Child Labour in Nigeria

Child Labour portends great threat to national peace and a greater challenge to national development in developing nations like Nigeria. Towards eliminating the scourge of Child Labour and mitigating its antecedent effects, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, has reinvigorated the fight against the menace, through the recently concluded Zonal Workshops on the National Reporting Template on the Elimination of Child Labour in Nigeria organized by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment with Technical support of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The Zonal Workshops which took place in Ibadan (South-West), Kano (North-West), Port-Harcourt (South-South), Enugu (South-East), Kogi (North-Central) and Gombe (North-East) brought together stakeholders in the fight against child labour comprising State Labour Controllers, Child Labour Desk Officers, Child Labour Focal Officer of the International Labour Organisation as the Technical Partner, Representatives of Civil Society Organisations, Organised Labour Union, Nigeria Employers Consultative Association and representatives of the National Steering Committee on Child Labour.

Addressing participants during the various Zonal Workshops, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Bolaji Adebiyi said that “Child Labour presents a serious challenge at global and national levels and requires concerted efforts by all stakeholders to overcome. That is why the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment over the years worked assiduously in collaboration with Developmental Partners and other Stakeholders to develop robust National Policies on Child Labour with a view to combating the menace.”

Adebiyi emphasized that the Reporting Template would not only help in tackling the incidences of child labour across the country but will also serve as a valuation mechanism to facilitating the identification of gaps in the implementation of multi-sectoral strategies and processes as well as provide basis for proactive and remedial actions aimed at reducing or eliminating child labour in Nigeria.

He expressed optimism that the National Reporting Template for combating child labour remains one of the most pragmatic ways of harnessing the potentials, and comparative advantages of the various stakeholders in order to make meaningful progress.

The Permanent Secretary re-affirmed the Ministry’s readiness to step-up labour inspections to eliminate child labour in workplaces in all the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory. He added that the workshop is a practical demonstration of the determination of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment to ensure that all members of the State Steering Committee on Child Labour are well sensitized and are aware of the substantive targets set under Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goal which seeks for “immediate and effective measures to eradicate Forced Labour, end Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking and secure the prohibition of Worst Forms of Child Labour, including the recruitment and the use of child soldiers by 2025 and end child labour in all its forms.”

“It was in the light of the above, that the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment in collaboration with Development Partners and other Stakeholders developed and formulated a robust National Policy on Child Labour and National Action Plan on the Elimination of Child Labour in Nigeria.” Adebiyi emphasized.

According to the International Labour Organisation, Child labour is any work that deprives a child of childhood, potential and dignity, including education, it is work performed by persons below the age of 18 years, which deprives them of basic human rights, interferes in the education of the child, is abusive, hazardous, exploitative and is harmful to the health, safety, morals as well as the total development of the child.

Key statistics by ILO in 2012 showed that 168 million children globally are in child labour
with more than half, 85 million, in hazardous work. The largest number of child labourers is found in the Asia-Pacific region, Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest incidence (more than one in five children) and remains a region of great concern. Latin America, numbers (and incidence) remain low but persistent, especially in hazardous work.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 protects children from economic exploitation and any work that is likely to be hazardous; to interfere with the child’s education; or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral, or social development.

Towards meeting this objectives, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment in accordance with the International Labour Organisation standards designed strategies in the elimination of child labour which includes; development of the National Action Plan, strengthening of institutional mechanism to monitor implementation of the National Action Plan, development of Hazardous child labour list and establishment of a child labour unit in all relevant departments of the national government, which would be focal points for all the activities related to child labour in States.

It also calls for the constitution of a national steering committee, including relevant government departments, social partners and civil society organisations active on child protection, at the apex for monitoring and policy-making on child labour issues within States. This steering committee should also be replicated at the sub-national and community levels to build the capacity of institutions and actors responsible for the enforcement of national legislation and implementation of the National Action Plan.

Premised on the objectives above, and in line with the target set under Goal 8 of the Sustainable Development Goals {SGDs) target 8.7. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment in collaboration with Development Partners and other Stakeholders developed and formulated a robust National Policy on Child Labour and National Action Plan on the Elimination of Child Labour in Nigeria, including the development and validation of a National Reporting Template on Child Labour for proper monitoring, evaluation and data collection on child labour in Nigeria.

Participants, at the various Zonal Workshops on the child labour reporting template, agreed that the validated National Reporting Template is holistic and offered a prospect for a robust reporting process on the elimination of Child Labour in Nigeria and that collaborative effort of all stakeholders and concerned individual is required if Nigeria is to achieve SDG 8.7.

Akintunde Martins

Information Officer, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment

Writes from Abuja

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