Poverty Responsible for Child Labour in Africa, Says Ngige

Onyebuchi Ezigbo

Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has linked the scourge of child labour to  pervasive  poverty in the African continent.

The minister, however, noted that the current administration in  Nigeria has adopted multi-pronged approach to fight child labour through reduction in poverty index, despite teething challenges.

He disclosed this yesterday, while addressing the International Labour Organisation (ILO) 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour, holding in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.

The minister who co-chaired the day’s panel, said Nigeria faced numerous challenges in the fight against Child Labour but was doing everything possible to stem the social malaise.

According to him, the challenges in the fight to eradicate child labour  include low revenue earnings due to fall in crude oil prices and production, over dependence on imported goods/ items and low agricultural production and the  consequential  economic recession.

He attributed the worsening scenario in Nigeria to COVID-19 pandemic which stagnated  economic activities all over the world, pushing the country into a second economic recession in 2020.

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 .

“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 heavy  construction industry as well as ill-equipped persons  handling dangerous chemicals in industries.”

To reverse poverty, the minister  said the federal government has rolled out various measures  including the diversification of the economy through agriculture revolution -provision of fertilisers, grants to farmers, quick yields and agricultural extension.

Other measures he said, are the stoppage of unnecessary importation of commodities, such as rice, potato and beans and blockage of revenue leakages.

According to him, government was boosting Technical and Vocational Training Education, though the restructuring of the entire secondary and tertiary education curricular.

He further said that government has introduced free education at primary  and junior secondary level as well as school feeding programme to tackle low school enrolment.

“We equally have  adhoc 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 enterprenuership loans. The establishment of Occupational and Safety Health Commission is in progress.”

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