Despite the global condemnation of child labour practices, its rising trend in Nigeria is strongly growing concerns. The federal government estimates that 43 percent of Nigerian children aged 5-11 actively engage in some type of economic activities with the most severe sorts of underage workers are particularly prevalent. The Ministry of Labour and Employment, led by the Permanent Secretary Kachollom Daju, set out on a road walk in commemoration of the 2023 World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL), with the theme “Social Justice for All End Child Labour.”
The purpose of the road walk, which started at the Federal Secretariat and ended at the National Human Rights Commission in Abuja, was to re-energize global the movement for social justice and the eradication of child labour. Daju, speaking during the road walk, stated that the Federal Government is committed to ending child labour because it recognises the magnitude of confronting/solving the issue. She said that it is a major problem that violates millions of children’s human rights to a childhood free from exploitation, health care, schooling, and mental and moral growth that they deserve.
All parties involved need to move swiftly to provide measures.
Referring to the 2016–2017 MICS Survey, she asserts that 39 percent of children involved in the workforce do so in perilous conditions such as granite quarrying, artisanal mining, commercial sexual exploitation, armed combat, or even got engaged in human trafficking. These statistics highlight the pressing need for all parties involved in addressing these practices in Nigeria and beyond to move swiftly to provide measures that would eradicate the menace. The World Day Against Child Labour is a reminder that the struggle to end underage workers calls for a consistent/concerted commitment.
Numerous actions, projects, regulations, and partnerships exhibits the Federal Government of Nigeria commitment to contributing to the global fight against the issue and its worst forms. Among these initiatives include the adoption and ratification of ILO Conventions No.138 and No.182; Enactment of the Child Rights Act to domesticate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; The 36 States of the Federation and the FCT have domesticated the Child Rights Act; Review of the National Policy on Child Labour and the National Action Plan on the Elimination of Child Labour; Development of the List of Hazardous Child Labour.
Patterns of exploitations against children is important.
Some of the highlighted hurdles in eliminating child labour in Nigeria include poverty, cultural/religious reasons, a subpar education system, minimal social safety mechanisms, and a skewed understanding of the issue. Daju stated that the Ministry of Labour and Employment will continue working with relevant actors to devise and implement collective initiatives that help eradicate it. In addition, the agency also intends to advocate for the establishment of appropriate government interventions and child protection policies.
She also mentioned that measures were being taken to aid local organisations and support victims as well as households in difficult situations. Mr. Tony Ojukwu, SAN, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Human Rights Commission (NHRC), in his goodwill address, emphasized that in recognition of the menace, it is very crucial to be aware of the necessity of breaking the vicious pattern of exploitations perpetrated against children and working towards a secured world in which no child is forced to give up their ambition in order to survive.
There are 15 million child workers in Nigeria.
Ojukwu claims that examining the statistics shows the unflinching reality confronting us. This is as the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that around 160 million children around the world are involved in child labour. In Africa, 72.1 million children are estimated to be engaged in child labour and 31.5 million in hazardous work while 15 million child workers are in Nigeria. He argued that the WDACL commemoration was an opportunity to directly address these statistics and develop broad strategies to safeguard the rights of children and ensure a brighter future for coming generations.