By Tosin Kolade
Abuja – The Federal Government has vowed to fight cultural practices promoting child labour, and declared that nothing would be spared in the war against the menace.
The apex government’s stance is contained in a speech delivered by Mr William Alo, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, on Thursday in Abuja, at a symposium to commemorate the 2019 World Day Against Child Labour.
“Domestic and agricultural activities in Nigerian societies are culturally reserved for children as social instruments for child training and preparation for adulthood, but government will not accept a situation where some individuals use these cultures to deprive the child of his or her education,” he said.
Alo called on all stakeholders to key into the new innovative ways employed by government to accelerate the pace of progress already made to ensure that the menace was fought to a standstill.
While describing the annual event as an opportunity for stakeholders to share their achievements, commitments and challenges in the fight against child labour, Alo stressed that practical steps must be taken to prevent and respond to child labour by addressing its root cause, especially poverty.
He called on government at all levels to prioritise provisions of free and qualitative basic education to rural communities and urban areas where child labour was endemic.
The permanent secretary said that parents, especially mothers, should be trained on skills that would provide alternative means of livelihood to increase family income and reduce poverty.
“Parents and care givers should be trained on skills to improve means of livelihood so as to allow children gain education,” he said.
He also called on trade unions to play a central role in fighting the menace by promoting safe and healthy working conditions in work places, as well as mainstream child labour concerns in collective bargaining agreements.
“While Nigeria has recorded modest progress in combating this menace in recent past, we have fallen short of addressing the full scale and scope of the problem.
“A substantial amount should be allocated in our state and national budgets for the fight against child labour,” he opined.
Similarly, the Country Director, International Labour Organisation (ILO), Mr Dennis Zulu, called for renewed commitment and unity of effort from all actors in Nigeria, especially governments, workers, employers, enterprises, civil society organisations and donors, toward ratifying and implementing the conventions.
He urged stakeholders to take immediate action to address challenges inhibiting the elimination of all forms of child labour by 2025.
“The fight for elimination of the worst forms of child labour in Nigeria requires all hands on deck,” he said.
He also commended the Ministry of Labour and National Steering Committee on Elimination of Child Labour for their dogged commitment to eliminating the menace in Nigeria.
The World Day Against Child Labour was initiated by ILO in 2002 to focus attention on global extent of child labour and efforts needed to eliminate the menace.
This year’s theme is: “Children Should Not Work On Fields But On Dreams”.