The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged the federal government to amend the Child Labour Law in line with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 138 on Child Labour, “which we have already domesticated’’.
NLC’s Head of International Relations Department, Mr. Uchenna Ekwe, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday in Geneva on the sideline of the 2016 ILO conference.
Ekwe stated that the call has become necessary because the present child labour law in the country is outdated.
“If you noticed, even the ILO complementary bag for this year, is on child labour, so this conference has a lot of focus on child labour.
“Incidentally, Nigeria appeared on what is called double footnotes that is after the Standard Committee considered the report of the Committee of Experts, who visited Nigeria.
“The main crux of the matter is up grading the Nigerian law to suit the provision of Convention 138 on child labour.
“Incidentally, that law has been delayed over six years in the parliament; so it came up when presentations were made.
“The challenge is that, Nigeria needs to get that law amended in line with the convention which we have already domesticated.”
He noted that the aim of the amendment was to protect the right of the child.
Ekwe said the NLC’s position was for the federal government to enforce free and compulsory primary and secondary education for every child.
“Even if you do not need every child to go to the university, any person with qualitative primary and secondary education can hold their own anywhere in the world.
“Those that have the capacity to go into further intellectual base university can do that, but every other person must move away from the minimum poverty line.
“If people think that education is expensive, there is a saying that you should try ignorance.”
He said that the amendment of the Child Labour Law should include the age barrier that nobody should work before 15 years.
Ekwe said that if a child under 15 years of age must work, it should be specified that he/she must have finished secondary school education.
He said ILO had taken a position on Nigeria’s inability to amend the child labour law in line with ILO 138 on Child Labour.
“I know that ILO has urged the Nigerian government to quickly amend the Child Law Act to meet the provisions of Convention 138.
“Two, they have offered to send technical assistant to help train the trainer.
“And the issue of training and supervisory inspectorate divisions to check, including domestic violence to know the level under age people are treated.
“That will include the punishment for engaging people under certain age, in certain work,’’ he said.
Ekwe added that it was important for Nigerian government to amend the child labour law as there could be social sanctions by the ILO.