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Over 15m children engage in child labour

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By Usman Oladimeji

ILO says more than 15 million children in Nigeria are engaged in Child Labour.

Child labour in Nigeria remains a paramount issue that needs to be addressed as Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) identified areas in Niger, Ondo and Osun states where child labour practices are rampant. Also, speaking at the official launch of the “Child Labour Guidance Tool for Businesses in Nigeria” project, the Director of ILO Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone and Liaison Office for ECOWAS, Vanessa Phala, stated that not less than 15 million children are involved in child labour in Nigeria, where half of this figure bears the heavy burden of hazardous work.

According to her, the child labour crisis had escalated since 2015, when the ILO and International Organization for Employers (IOE) released practical guidance for employers on identifying and preventing child labour in businesses. She, however, expressed optimism that the effective implementation of the guide being launched would practically address the challenges of child Labour’s supply chain in Nigeria. While the report of the National Child Labour and Forced Labour survey is still under work, Phala said in the past two years, Nigeria has accomplished some modest milestones in eradicating child labour.

ILO’s ACCEL Africa Project has organized a series of interventions.

However, she believes that more coordinated efforts are required to eradicate child labour. The newly launched guidance tool is meant to serve as a regular reminder to labour employers that eradicating child labour is a communal responsibility and that every employer has a vital role in the global campaign to achieve Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7. Phala said that the ILO’s ACCEL Africa Project, with direct support from NECA, has coordinated several initiatives, including conducting research, preparing guidelines, and capacity development of child labour focal persons in NECA member companies, among others.

The President of NECA, Taiwo Adeniyi, represented by NECA’s First Vice President, Kunle Oyelana, noted that the launch is a milestone for Nigeria and the lifetime of the “Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chains in Africa” Project. He asserts that it is a significant achievement in the ongoing activities aimed at promoting the elimination of Child Labour in the Cocoa and Artisanal Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) sectors in Nigeria through the ACCEL Project.

NECA poised to persist in advocating amongst the supply chain actors.

Adeniyi noted that since the implementation in 2020 to date, Nigeria has strengthened and deepened the capacity of organizations and key stakeholders in the organized private sector on the urgent need to eradicate child labour practices and their impact on global supply chains in the country and the rest of the world. According to him, it is evident that the project has positively impacted the aforementioned major areas in Nigeria where child labour practices are prevalent.

Despite Nigeria’s ratification of ILO Child Labour Conventions 138 on the Minimum Age for Employment and 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, several children still work long hours in unsafe and unhealthy environments, assuming too much responsibility for their age. They labour with little food, low pay, no education, and no medical care, violating child rights. However, Adeniyi stated that NECA, as a prominent Employers’ Association and the Voice of Business in Nigeria, would continue to advocate and create awareness amongst supply chain actors about suppliers’ adverse employment practices and the advantages of responsible businesses without child labour.

Recognizing the key players’ impact on the project.

While emphasizing the significant impact of the project on businesses in the organized private sector, Adeniyi, on behalf of the NECA Governing Council and Management, expressed gratitude towards the invaluable contribution of the Sponsors and key stakeholders of the ACCEL Africa Project, including ILO, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and government of the Netherlands, the Federal Government of Nigeria represented by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress, (TUC), and other civil society organizations for their passion and commitment to the success of the project.

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