From Adanna Nnamanj, Abuja
Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige has associated the scourge of child labour with the rising level of poverty in Africa.
Ngige said Nigeria was facing numerous challenges in the fight against Child Labour but was doing everything possible to stem the social malaise.
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The Minister spoke Wednesday at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour, holding in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.
This was contained in a statement issued by the ministry’s Spokesperson, Mr Olajide Oshundun.
The statement quoted the Minister saying the current administration in Nigeria has adopted a multi-pronged approach to fight child labour through the reduction in poverty index, despite teething challenges.
He listed some of the challenges inhibiting the fight against the Child Labour including; low revenue earnings due to a fall in crude oil prices and production, overdependence on imported items, low agricultural production and the consequential economic recession.
He also blamed the worsening scenario in Nigeria on the COVID-19 pandemic which stagnated economic activities all over the world, pushing the country into a second economic recession in 2020.
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Ngige said, “Even before the present administration, poverty had crept into Nigeria’s socio-economic firmament and accentuated Child Labour, with many non-working age persons taking to farming and artisanal mining.
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“Also, the educational curriculum not properly developed to give the right and proper skills in the secondary and tertiary institutions, compounded matters.
“High rate of school dropout among children also became a major issue and a catchment pool for Child Labour. Decent jobs for young persons gave way to informal, hazardous jobs, such as illegal refining of petroleum products which has claimed scores of lives with attendant pollution, working poor in the heavy construction industry, as well as ill-equipped persons handling dangerous chemicals in industries.”
To reverse poverty, which he said was at the root of child labour, the Minister stated that the Federal Government has rolled out various measures including the diversification of the economy through the agriculture revolution – provision of fertilisers, grants to farmers, quick yield seedlings and agricultural extension.
Other measures, he said, were the stoppage of unnecessary importation of commodities, such as rice, potato and beans and blockage of revenue leakages.
According to him, the government was boosting Technical and Vocational Training Education, through the restructuring of the entire secondary and tertiary education curricula.
He explained that the government introduced free education at the primary and junior secondary levels, as well as a school feeding programme to tackle low school enrolment.
“We equally have ad hoc employment schemes, like the National Youth Service Corps Scheme (NYSC) for all graduates of tertiary institutions under 30 years, N- POWER programme for one million unemployed persons, and social security programmes like conditional cash transfer (CCT), Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), survival funds and entrepreneurship loans. The establishment of Occupational and Safety Health Commission is in progress.”
He added that though these efforts were yielding fruits, the Nigerian Government still needed technical support from the ILO.