Nigeria: Stop Child Labour | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nigeria: Stop Child Labour

Posted: Jun 22, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


The recent revelation by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) that Nigeria has the worst cases of child labour in Africa is quite unfortunate and calls for urgent action by the government and indeed Nigerians to stem this tide. On June 12th, a day set aside every year to mark World Day Against Child Labour, ILO accused the country of not doing enough to reduce or eradicate the use of under aged children in labour that is dehumanising, tedious and too demanding and physical.

According to the Organisation, there are over 168 million under aged children, globally, between the ages of 4-14years that have been put to work illegally and under harsh conditions to augment the resources of their families. Out of this number, Nigeria has 11 million that have been described by ILO as being involved in the worst form of child labour. This figure is the highest in West Africa.


This is worrisome especially as the report noted that the country failed to defend itself at the recent ILO conference in Geneva, Switzerland.  Child labour is evil and having acceded to the provisions of the Articles in ILO Convention 138 of 1973, that stipulates the age when a child can be deemed grown enough to be employed in labour, the country should not be seen still grappling with the modalities of enforcement in 2016.

Apart from the ILO Convention, the United Nations, in 1959, adopted the Declaration on the Rights of the Child (DRC). This same Declaration was again adopted by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child in 1989 as an affirmation that children all over the world have a right to be properly taken care of by their parents and any community they find themselves. This international law on the basic rights of children to survival, improved health conditions, education and protection from all forms of abuse and exploitation was also expressed in the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child as adopted in 1990 by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now African Union (AU).  The Government should therefore not be seen to be lagging behind in implementing the abiding decisions.

Any work that will ultimately affect a child’s health, development or school negatively is unacceptable. We therefore urge the government to strengthen the law, in particular the child Right Act that should be enforced.

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) and all other Agencies and Bodies at both Federal and State levels responsible for stemming child labour should give this maltreatment the attention it deserves. It is not too much for a child who should be in school but is seen engaged in labour to be apprehended for the purpose of identifying and arresting the parents. Unless strict compliance is enforced by the law, adults will always give poverty and lack as reasons for denying a child the right to be positioned to succeed in life, forgetting that this deprivation will in due course lead to a cycle of poverty as the child will not be able to compete with peers in future.

Indeed social partners in the country should work together and ensure full domestication and implementation of convention 138 as agreed at the ILO conference. Government, parents, teachers and indeed every adult should be involved in the protection of the rights of the child as a child hardened and pushed to face cruelty in a cold world at an early age will grow up with no love or value for other people, having borne a grudge from an early age against a society that turned its back.

When it is considered that children are actually the greatest assets the human race can boast of because they offer the opportunity of continuous existence, it becomes a puzzle that these invaluable gifts could be exposed to psychologically degrading and emotionally traumatising torture.