No fewer than 15 million children are engaged in child labour in Nigeria, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), has said, just as it called for actions by all stakeholders to tackle the unacceptable practice.
Vanessa Phala, country director of ILO (Nigeria), stated this in Lagos on Friday, at the launch of Child Labour Guidance Tool for Business in Nigeria.
According to the ILO, child labour refers to work that deprives children (any person under 18) of their childhood, potential, and dignity, which is harmful to their physical and/or mental development.
The guidance tool for business was launched in collaboration with the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) and drew from the Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chains in Africa (ACCEL), a four-year project funded by the Dutch Government.
It highlights the causes of child labour in Nigeria, its consequences, the actions required to eliminate the practice, rescue and give new hope to children lured or forced into child labour, including returning them to school.
The guidance tool also addresses how businesses can use their corporate social responsibilities (CSR) to eliminate child labour in Nigeria.
According to Phala, although Nigeria in the past two years has achieved some milestones in the elimination of child labour, there is still more to be done by the most populous African nation to achieve zero tolerance for child labour.
“In Nigeria, not less than 15 million children are engaged in child labour, and half of this number is bearing the heavy burden of hazardous work,” said Phala, who also revealed that the ILO will soon release the national child labour and forced labour survey on Nigeria.
She expressed the optimism that the guidance tool would serve as a constant reminder to employers of labour that eliminating child labour was a collective responsibility and that they (employers) have an important part to play in the global campaign to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 8.7.”
“To our human resource managers and recruiters, our recruitment processes must ensure that child labour is shut out of our farms, factories, warehouses, mines, construction sites, markets, garages, haulage, and other touchpoints for paid work,” said Phala.
Also speaking at the event, Taiwo Adeniyi, president of NECA, described the child labour guidance tool as a milestone for Nigeria.
“It is a major achievement in the ongoing activities aimed at eliminating child labour in the Cocoa and Artisanal Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) sectors in Nigeria through the ACCEL Africa project,” said Adeniyi, who was represented by Kunle Oyelana, NECA’s 1st vice president.
Adeniyi lauded the ACCEL project, saying it has positively impacted the focus areas in Nigeria, including communities in Niger, Ondo and Osun States where many children work for long hours in dangerous and unhealthy environments.
“These children work with little food, small pay, no education and no medical care, thereby establishing a cycle of child rights violations. This is in spite of Nigeria’s ratification of the ILO’s Child Labour Convention 138 on the minimum age for admission to employment, and Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour.”
He assured that NECA, as the voice of business in Nigeria, would continually advocate and create awareness among the actors in the supply chain, about adverse hiring practices of suppliers and the benefits of responsible businesses without child labour.