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Personalise fight against child labour, FG begs Nigerians

The federal government, on Thursday, appealed to Nigerians to take ownership of the fight against child labour and forced labour in the country, which it…

The federal government, on Thursday, appealed to Nigerians to take ownership of the fight against child labour and forced labour in the country, which it said has compounded issues of out-of-school children in Nigeria.

It also disclosed that there was an ongoing review of the labour standard bill to mainstream child labour, with special consideration on the adoption of 15 years as the minimum age for work or employment.

The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, made the plea in Abuja during the third edition of the National Children Conference to mark the elimination of child labour in Nigeria.

The conference was organised in commemoration of the 2024 World Day Against Child with the theme: “Let’s Act on our Commitments to End Child Labour”.

Speaking at the conference, the minister said, “About 25 million adults and children are in forced labour, including in global supply chains.

“It is a global menace that has proven to potentially hinder the development of children, leading to a lifelong physical and psychological damage. It also keeps the children out of school, thereby perpetuating poverty across generations.

“I humbly encourage everyone to take ownership in the fight against child labour and forced labour, and ensure the protection of the rights of citizens.”

Onyejeocha explained that the critical stakeholders were all aware that the current global statistics shows that 160 million children and nearly one in 10 worldwide are engaged in child labour.

She said to address the challenges of child labour, Nigeria had made giant strides in the ratification of the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions 138 on the minimum age for work, 182 on the worst forms of child labour, among others.

“I am here today to assure you that the situation of Child Labour will not continue. I promise to use my good office to reach out to all those in authority to ensure that all Nigerian children will go to school and remain in school,” she said.

On her part, Country Director of International Labour Organization (ILO) to Nigeria, Vanessa Phala, called on children to be part of the advocacy and campaign against child labour.

Phala, who was represented by ILO Project Coordinator on Child Labour, Agatha Kolawole, also called for the passage of the Labour Standard Bill as its passage would completely eliminate the issue of child labour in the country.

Also speaking, the Director of Inspectorate Department, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mrs Olaitan Olaolu, said the conference was apt towards the elimination of child labour in the country.

In the same vein, Head Abuja Corporate Office, Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Judith Tietie, noted that they would continue to educate employers on the importance of not employing children in the working environment.

“We, as employers, have recognised our responsibilities and to create an environment where every child will drive and grow to their full potential.

“We have also realised that making children work when they are young weakens the labour force of the economy; that is why the issue of child labour must be eradicated,” she said.

 

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