By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The International Federation of Women lawyers (FIDA) has called for renewed commitment on the part of government towards ending child labour in Nigeria.
This is also at it has urged all the states of the federation to adopt the Child Rights Act (2003)which provides for the protection of the child in all ramifications as the world marks this year’s World Day Against Child Labour.
This FIDA said, will go a long way to protect and secure the future of our Children who are entitled to enjoy their childhood.
FIDA reminded that Millions of children are exposed to long hours of work in dangerous and unhealthy environments, carrying too much responsibility for their age.
It therefore urged the government to look into reviewing the current labour law which does not offer adequate protection to the vulnerable in these times.
This is the position of FIDA in a statement signed by the Country Vice President/National President Rhoda Prevail Tyoden andNational Publicity Secretary, Eliana Martins sent to Sundiata Post.
The statement reads in full:
As the world marks the World Day Against Child Labour, we are reminded by UNICEF’s Factsheet on Child Labour in Nigeria 2006 that, a staggering 15 million children under the age of 14 are working across Nigeria. Many are exposed to long hours of work in dangerous and unhealthy environments, carrying too much responsibility for their age. Working in these hazardous conditions with little food, small pay, no education and no medical care establishes a cycle of child rights violations. These are terrible statistics which as a nation, we should not be proud of and must take proactive steps to redress.
Yet it is so glaring to see as we look all around us, this depressing sight, confirming that the average Nigerian child works to contribute and support his/her family. Consequently, the child’s right to be free from engaging in child labour is most easily and daily breached such that it can readily be termed abrogated.
This year the International Labour Organization (ILO), calls on all to focus on assessing the impact of ‘crisis’ on child labour. This is appropriate, particularly with the current COVID-19 pandemic which has ravaged countries creating uncontrollable crises everywhere.
The resultant effect has socially and economically been disastrous on families with the complete lockdown; not to mention the expectant negative effect being majorly felt on the labour market with the downsizing, job loss, and the folding-up of businesses, etc. Furthermore, government must look into reviewing our current labour law which does not offer adequate protection to the vulnerable in these times.
With families striving to survive through uncertain futures, the comfort bracket is thrown out the window and everyone must contribute to the daily needs of their family. Unfortunately, children are often during such challenging times, the first to suffer, often being deprived of needed necessaries and thereafter forced to join the labour market in whatever capacity just to fend for themselves and their families.
This current crisis can therefore worsen the statistics and push even millions of vulnerable children into child labour, perhaps even doing hazardous work to survive. As such, the Nigerian child is now at even greater risk of facing circumstances that are most challenging and difficult for his or her development and survival.
FIDA Nigeria in pointing out this issue, appeals for the prompt need to pay better attention, and to put in place a more coordinated work plan to protect children from this predicament; in addition to social welfare packages that will better benefit and protect our children; as opposed to exposing them to peril and danger under the guise of job apprenticeship where they are often taken advantage of and or compelled to go into forced labour just to meet their needs.
Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by world leaders in 2015 calls on the global community to: “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.”
Based on this Sustainable Development Goals we remind government of the need for a renewed commitment to ending child labour in Nigeria. In furtherance of which FIDA Nigeria calls on the Nigerian government to show commitment and honour to, and respect for the Conventions that she has ratified. We ask government to bring forth into prompt action, the political will to do the needful for the best interest of the child.
Children have a right to be free from child labour. We must do more than talk about this, a strategic plan backed by social welfare benefits for the child is essential and imperative at this time of crisis.
FIDA Nigeria speaks for the vulnerable children out there at great risk of delving into forced labour as a result of the crises occasioned by this 2020 pandemic.
Let’s put plans in place to protect and secure the future of our Children who are entitled to enjoy their childhood! Let all States adopt the Child Rights Act (2003) which provides for the protection of the child in all ramifications.
For FIDA Nigeria:
Rhoda Prevail Tyoden Eliana Martins
Country Vice President/National President National publicity secretary
FIDA Nigeria FIDA Nigeria.