Elimination of child labour needs concerted efforts by stakeholders – NECA

Director-General, NECA, Dr Timothy Olawale

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) says elimination of child labour in Nigeria is achievable only with concerted efforts by major stakeholders.

NECA’s Director-General, Dr Timothy Olawale, made the assertion in an interview on Friday in Lagos.

He said governments, employers, labour, parents and guardians should work together to achieve it, adding that the “bottle necks” and causes of child rights abuse should be collectively addressed.

He said there should be strict implementation of the Child Rights Act (2002) by the Federal Government to protect the rights of children.

Olawale said elimination of poverty, high unemployment worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, and bad cultural practices, among others, was crucial to elimination of child labour.

“Furthermore, an enabling business environment provided by government will encourage generation of sustainable and decent jobs which will eliminate the need for child labour,” he said.

The director-general noted that child labour practices thrived more in the informal sector and NECA’s concern for it was borne out of its prevalence.

He said in spite of decades of international work, legislations on prohibition of child labour and concerted efforts to eliminate it at all levels of society, there were still cases of use of children for hazardous work.

“Recent reports indicate that a good number of Nigerian children now work in the growing mining industries in the northern and south-western parts of Zamfara and other states.

“This practice contravenes the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Child Labour Convention 138 on the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment.

“In spite of the laws, child labour has continued to grow among organisations and individuals who secretly employ young persons in their mining industries and mining sites,” he said.

Olawale said that NECA and ILO had agreed to collaborate to accelerate progress on elimination of child labour in cocoa, artisanal and small-scale gold mining supply chains in Nigeria.

He said this would be done through Accelerating Action for Elimination of Child Labour in supply chains in Africa (ACCEL Africa Project).

According to him, the project will work on public policy and good governance, empowerment and representation, partnership as well as knowledge sharing among supply chain actors.

“Although the project has national coverage, NECA will be executing a series of programmes to strengthen institutional capacity of the private sector and the employers’ associations in the cocoa and mining sectors.

“The programmes include advocacy meetings, capacity building programmes, formalisation of the associations in the mining and cocoa sectors to institutionalise fair labour practices.

“Others are surveys to ascertain the Knowledge, Aptitudes and Practices (KAP) of the private sector.

“Furthermore, a Code of Conduct will be developed to guide activities and operations of the private sector on child labour,” Olawale said.

Supreme reports that latest global estimates indicate that the number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide, an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years.

This is contained in a recent joint publication on “Child Labour: Global Estimates 2020 Trends and the Road Forward” by the United Nations Children’s Fund and International Labour Organisation.

The report warns that global progress to end child labour has stalled for the first time in 20 years.

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