By Esenvosa Izah
Lagos – A Child Rights Advocate, Mr Taiwo Akinlami, has called on government at all levels to address poverty in order to curb child labour and abuse in the country.
Akinlami, who is the Secretary General, Child Protection Network, an NGO, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lagos.
He said that the panacea to stop the menace of child labour and abuse was through the eradication of poverty in the society.
“The International Labour Organisation had in 2014 recognised that the way forward in social protection is empowering parents.
“An average Nigerian lives on less than a dollar per day; that is about N355 per day; what can you do with that?
“A man who has a wife and eight children, because there is no family planning; and these children do not have public schools to attend and live on a dollar per day, how does he survive?
“When the existence of parents is abused and if we cannot do anything about poverty, I can assure you that we are not going to do anything about child labour and abuse.
“A lot of children are still seen hawking. If parents can send their children to school, health centre, have good shelter over their heads, it will reduce sending their children to hawk,’’ he said.
The child rights advocate noted that some state governments had put in place measures to arrest people hawking and have organised a lot of awareness programmes to ensure the elimination of such practice.
He, however, said that the arrest of people was not the solution to the problem, but rather it would encourage migration to other states.
“We must commend Lagos State Government for setting up structures in terms of domestic violence and sexual response team, and providing legal services for people who do not have the means.
“However, if we are going to solve the problem of child abuse, you must be interested in people’s social lives and economy, provide jobs, accommodation, education and taking away the burden of school fees on parents.
“Those are the fundamental issues that must be addressed,’’ Akinlami said.
He also identified education as a major challenge, as many children were out of school.
Akinlami said that there were about 1,700 public schools competing with over 22,000 private schools in Lagos state.
“Education is in the hands of the private sector. The sector dictates the pace of education and has become an alternative to public education; it ought not to be so.
“Education is supposed to be in the hands of the public sector; what should happen is that people who want to go to private schools should go, but public schools should be made available for everybody,’’ he said.