The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr William Alo, has called for renewed partnership from all stakeholders to curb the increasing rate of child labour in the country.
Alo made this call at a sensitisation rally to commemorate the 2019 World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL) in Nigeria held in Abuja.
According to him, child labour is the exploitation of children through any form of work that deprives childhood, interferes with children ability to attend regular school, and is mentally, physically, socially or morally harmful.
He noted that child Labour, as it relates to the market setting, was work done in the market that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and dignity.
He said this was harmful to their physical, moral and mental development and listed hawking in the market, begging using children, children carrying a heavy load as well as wheelbarrow pushing as an infringement on their rights.
“These activities as simple as they may look, affect the child’s well-being and dignity. These children are supposed to be in school in order to fulfil their dreams and not in market places working until they reach a certain age.
“Even if they have to be in market places assisting their parents/guardians, they should not be denied basic education at least up to junior secondary school level.
“We, therefore, enjoin the authorities of this market to help us and join in the fight against child labour by ensuring that Child Labour is not allowed in the market and its environs’’.
The permanent secretary called for stakeholders commitment by taking practical steps to ensure that children were in school or attend vocational training, and report such incidences of Child Labour to the ministry for action.
The Country Director, International Labour Organisation (ILO) Nigeria, Mr Dennis Zulu, noted that the organisation had been championing policies and programmes to fight child labour in the country.
He said that while Nigeria had ratified and domesticated several United Nations and ILO Conventions, statistics indicated that about 43 per cent of Nigerian children aged between five and 10 years were involved in child labour.
According to him, the children are involved in the worst form of child labour.
He added that this was not covered by any of Nigeria’s legislation and policies addressing forced labour, child labour, and human trafficking.
He said it was high time Nigeria stopped paying lip service to the fight against child labour.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Mu’azu Abdulkadir, said the ministry was addressing Child Labour through various activities including sensitisation programmes to inform miners of its dangers.
He said the ministry was also working on a campaign to address child labour through female empowerment.
He also noted that Nigeria was committed to being a pathfinder country for the alliance 8.7 which was launched in May in Nigeria.
Alliance 8.7 aims at a world without forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour.
The World Day against Child Labour was established by the ILO in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it.