The United States has commended and pledged support to Nigeria’s efforts in tackling child labour and promoting decent work.
The International Relations Officer (Africa Adviser) in the United States Department of Labour, Olaoluwa Abina made the pledge during a working visit to the Ministry of Labour and Employment in Abuja.
He said the visit was to boost labour inspection and occupational safety in Nigeria and meet the stakeholders to find out where gap exists, so as to work together to design a better operational approach.
Also speaking, the United States Embassy Labour Attaché in Nigeria, Mirna Torres who accompanied Olaoluwa on the visit, noted that there was a significant decrease in the rate of child labour in Nigeria and commended the minister for championing the crusade.
In his response, the Minister of Labour and Employment Dr Chris Ngige said it was a clear administrative policy of the Buhari administration that decent work cannot be effectively promoted without tackling the scourge of child labour, hence the deliberate modeling of its Social Investment Programme to essentially benefit school children through a Home Grown School Feeding Programme, intended to make school attractive and assist parents who withdraw kids from school out of poverty.
“We are leaving no stone unturned in eliminating child labour as a fundamental step in promoting decent work. You cannot talk of decent work when you have under-aged children dropping out of school and joining the workforce in mining, agriculture and others. Even in agriculture where our tradition permits children to assist parents in the farm, there must be a limit,” he said.
Dwelling on other measures the Federal Government has taken in this direction, the minister said work was in progress on National Child Labour Policy to discourage out-of-school phenomenon and set penalties for defaulting parents.
He added, “Our labour laws are being amended to be explicit on the age a Nigerian is not eligible to work or be in the work force. This is currently before the National Assembly. We also have regulations that stimulate occupational safety for workers as well as prohibit discrimination of any form against persons living with HIV aids”.
The Minister further reiterated his request at the AGOA conference in September 2016 for the United States to provide technical and possibly, material assistance to Nigeria for an efficient labour inspection, occupational safety and health and in the elimination of child labour.